Lawmakers seeks to create Center for West Philippine Sea

LAWMAKERS are pushing for the creation of the Center for West Philippine Sea to study the basis of the claims of the country over the waters and islands in the West Philippine Sea under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), international law, local laws and historical data.

Under House Bill 6457 filed by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), the Center, which shall be attached to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) under the Office of Special and Ocean Concerns, shall propose actions and measures to defend the nation’s sovereignty and patrimony.

Rodriguez said the Center shall also prepare concrete plans on how to develop and fully utilize all natural resources in the area and perform other duties and responsibilities that would strengthen sovereignty and other claims over the area.

Under the bill, an amount of P50 million shall be initially appropriated for the proposed creation of the Center which shall be provided by Congress in the annual budget of the Department of Foreign
Affairs under the annual General Appropriations Act.

The Center shall be headed by an Assistant Secretary of the DFA. He shall exercise supervision and control of the Center.

The Center shall prescribe and define its position structure and staffing pattern in accordance with existing civil service laws, rules and regulations.

“It is the policy of the State to preserve its sovereignty over the islands that it owns in the West Philippine Sea and its territorial sea, contiguous zones, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Rodriguez said.

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