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Law of the Sea and Philippine Security
Jay L. Batongbacal
 
     
 

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) presents a common and internationally accepted framework for management of maritime spaces. This is of primary concern to us because as an archipelagic country, we have to devote more attention to our maritime spaces. One particular concern is the term "archipelagic waters." We have a very different conception of what archipelagic waters are, and what we have been asserting it to be through history, and the archipelagic waters concept as defined in the Law of the Sea.

Under the Law of the Sea, the archipelagic waters are much more liberal with respect to foreign uses. Such is seen by some to be detrimental to the security of the country. But to date, attempts to respond to this, from a policy stand point have been few and far between.

The University of the Philippines can contribute in certain areas by formulating our own agenda for policy studies to address the UNCLOS and also drawing up a legal and policy reform agenda to implement the conclusions of the policy studies. The areas for policy studies include the following : (1) developments in legal issues involving the sea which will have a great impact on us as an archipelagic country; (2) formulation of a foreign policy thrust that will promote the peaceful uses and demilitarization of the sea; (3) marine-based threats to national security along with recommended responses; (4) definition and promotion of a comprehensive archipelagic defense policy; (5) alternative maritime security approaches in monitoring and controlling surveillance systems; and (6) bilateral and multilateral security arrangements.

With respect to legal reforms, of immediate concern would be to identify the areas of domestic law that need to be harmonized with international law, and how this can be done. Another area would be studies on how to moderate the adverse effects of the convention in the exercise of sovereignty. A third area would be studies on how to apply domestic law beyond the 12-nautical mile limit recognized by countries.

UP should strengthen its direct links among planners, mplementors, and decision makers. We need more experts in other countries’ policies and perspectives on the use of Philippine waters and maritime spaces. These are necessary in order to address the issues on the country’s security in the light of the developing and evolving international law of the sea.