Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (Screengrab)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed his office to review the proposal of retired Supreme Court associate justice Francis Jardeleza to craft a new baselines law to enforce the arbitral award the Philippines won in its West Philippine Sea (WPS) disputes with China.

This, after Jardeleza on June 5 submitted a letter to Duterte urging the President to certify as urgent the measure that seeks amendments to Republic Act (RA) 9522, a law that defines the baselines of the Philippines’ territorial sea.

“He immediately asked that it be subjected to complete staff work and he was very appreciative of the suggestion,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, when quizzed about Duterte’s response to Jardeleza’s letter.

On Monday, Jardeleza said his proposed law, titled “Philippine Maritime Features of the West Philippine Sea Act,” aims to specifically name and identify the maritime features in WPS claimed or occupied by the country.

The proposed law identified at least 100 maritime features in WPS, 25 of which are said to be rocks or high tide features that generate a territorial sea and a contiguous zone.

Jardeleza was assisted by international law academics, Dr. Melissa Loja and Professor Romel Bagares, in drafting the measure.

He said the bill should be certified as urgent as it “is the most inexpensive and yet most effective means of enforcing the Arbitral Award and strengthening our territorial and maritime rights” in WPS.

One of the most important provisions in the proposed new baselines law states that the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, as appropriate, over the following identified maritime features in WPS, without prejudice to other such features that will be discovered or established as part of the Philippine sovereignty or jurisdiction in the future. (Click here to read more…)