Co-Sponsorship Speech: Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act

May 13, 2024

Co-sponsorship Speech of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda
Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act
Session Hall, 13 May 2024

Thank you, Mr. President.

It is high time and it is just righteous that we now designate by law and by the President of the Republic of the Philippines all archipelagic sea lanes and air routes passage by foreign ships and aircrafts.

The Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act adopts protective measures to regulate international maritime activities including measures adopted or to be proposed for adoption in accordance with the regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The following are the designated Archipelagic Sea Lanes: (1) Philippine Sea – Balintang Channel – West Philippine Sea, (2) Celebes Sea – Sibutu Passage – Sulu Sea – Cuyo East Pass – Mindoro Strait – West Philippine Sea, and the (3) Celebes Sea – Basilan Strait – Sulu Sea – Nasubata Channel – Balabac Strait – West Philippine Sea.

The designation of archipelagic sea lanes solidifies our sovereignty and our maritime domain. It prevents unwanted and arbitrary passage of foreign vessels.

This is important because the breach of such threatens and harms our marine ecosystem and biodiversity, our national sovereignty, and the security of Philippine flag vessels. This act prevents foreign vessels from polluting, conducting research and survey activities, fishing, marine bioprospecting, loading, unloading of persons, goods, or currency.

Mr. President, we need to protect the diverse marine life in our archipelago. Foreign ships cannot just be allowed to go freely wherever they intend to be. The challenge will be in the implementation but at the very least the designation of the archipelagic sea lanes now defines and fortifies the legal boundaries for said ships and vessels.

For these reasons and more, I am proud to co-sponsor Committee Report No. 251 or the Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act.

Thank you, Mr. President.