Published on Sep 7, 2011
Last August 2007, this author filed Senate Bill No. 1467 entitled “An Act Defining the Archipelagic Baselines of the Philippine Archipelago, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 3046, as Amended by Republic Act No. 5446.” or otherwise known as the “Archipelagic Baselines Law of the Philippines.” The bill was the result of a series of consultations primarily with former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, who first pushed for the Baselines bill way back in 1987. It basically defines the archipelagic baselines to include the Scarborough Shoal and designates the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) as a “regime of islands.” To facilitate the passing of the bill, the technical details provided by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) as enumerated in House Bill No. 1202 filed by Congressman Antonio V. Cuenco as well as its other provisions were adopted in toto. Congress, however, filed HB 3216 that substituted for HB 1202.
Recently, controversies arose with the discovery of the particulars of the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) being conducted by RP, China and Vietnam within the waters off Palawan. Thereafter, Malacanang pressured Congress to revert HB 3216 to the Committee on Foreign Relations ostensibly to push for certain amendments. These two seemingly unrelated events inevitably pushed the baselines issue at the top of the national policy agenda. Given this context, now is the best time for us to finally resolve this issue.
This paper intends to explain and justify the position adopted in SB 1467 and differentiate it with the other options, as well as to clarify other closely related subjects surrounding the baseline issue.