The Maritime Law Association of the Philippines, Inc. (MARLAW) in an open letter asked President Rodrigo Duterte to take a stronger stance in defense of the West Philippine Sea against China.

MARLAW called for the passage into law of House Bill (HB) 6156 or the Philippine Maritime Zones Act.

“China’s unmitigated behavior in our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) and CS (Continental Shelf) is a blatant disregard of the sovereign rights of Filipinos in our waters. These rights are guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the letter read.

The bill, if signed into law, will define the Philippines maritime zones, archipelagic baselines, internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, as well as contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf. 

China’s presence within the features of the West Philippine Sea runs afoul of the arbitral award won by the Philippines in 2016 in the Hague. The ruling invalidated China’s historical claims to the waters. Kelsey Telo