September 22, 2023

I welcome and laud the Philippines’ move to join other nations in signing the first-ever treaty on protecting the international high seas under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In my capacity as the Senate President Pro Tempore, I wrote to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in March, expressing my great anticipation and enthusiasm for the High Seas Treaty, formally known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement.

Adopted by the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), the treaty holds the potential to create a comprehensive framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources beyond national jurisdiction. It is an opportunity for us to contribute to shaping a global governance regime that will ensure the protection of our marine environment and promote equitable access to resources in line with the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Citing the Tragedy of the Commons that predicts the destruction of ecosystems that are commonly shared if there is no agreed-upon management, I emphasized that commons are, in fact, jointly managed by communities. And just like climate, the atmosphere, and Antarctica, these are humanity’s commons, and we must do right by them if we are to do right by ourselves.

It is timely considering we are celebrating this month the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANAMo), and my upcoming sponsorship of the Blue Economy Bill, SB 1993, on Monday. The Blue Economy Bill seeks to achieve a sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

We keep trying to manage the earth’s resources using indicators that no longer reflect the importance of nature’s services. We have for so long ignored the ocean’s role not only in fisheries but in providing oxygen, regulating climate, and providing us all with unimaginable cultural wealth.

These domestic and international measures will give us what we need to have a fair governance of the earth, following the rule of law.