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Beijing University experts invited in Senate hearing on China's 10-dash line claim

The Senate special committee on maritime and admiralty zones has invited resource persons from Beijing University to the hearing of bills seeking to create a Philippine map that will counter China’s 10-dash line claim, Senator Francis Tolentino said Wednesday.

“We were trying to craft our own map. So this is a response to the 10-dash line…. We’re inviting resource persons from Beijing University, wala pang nag-oo (No one has confirmed yet.). So this will be a very exciting hearing tomorrow,” Tolentino said in a press conference.

“Gusto rin natin makita yung views nila e, diba? Gusto natin malaman sakanila mismo kung bakit gumawa sila ng 10-dash line. Hindi naman puwedeng tayo tayo lang nung nag- meeting doon, di ba? Kailangan mas broader yung ating - gusto rin natin makita yung punto de vista nila nang sa ganon yung gagawin nating batas e angkop sa tinatawag ng panahon, the call of the times,” he explained.

(We want to know their view and find out the reason why they came out with the claim for the 10-dash line. We're not supposed to just discuss it among ourselves. We want to look into their point of view so we can craft a law that fits the current situation.)

Apart from resource persons from China’s side, Tolentino said they invited the director of Southeast Asia Program and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and other foreign policy experts.

“Ito talaga ang tamang tugon, ‘yung Maritime Law…Mas titibay, mas magiging domestic--kasi may nakalagay sa UNCLOS that the party should endeavor to legislate [etcetera]. Mayroon nang 132 o 152 countries na gumawa na ng sariling batas based sa UNCLOS, si Republic of the Philippines [wala] pa,” he said.

(This is the proper response, the Maritime Law... stronger, domestic-- because it is stated under UNCLOS that the party should endeavor to legislate. There are already 132 or 152 countries that have created laws based on UNCLOS, but the Philippines is not one of them.)

Tolentino said that the hearings might also lead to the official naming of islands that are part of the West Philippine Sea.

“I have a feeling na it will lead to that not just islands but underwater features. Sa Benham rise naunahan tayo mayroong underwater features - China na. So kung ano man yung ginawa nilang pangalan don, papalitan na ulit ng pangalan natin,” he said.

(They beat us in Benham Rise for the underwater features. Whatever China named it, we will have to change it.)

“Iyon yung kabuuan, west philippine sea na tayo. West philippine sea na, ma-institutionalize na rin iyan. Ganon din naman sa Benham Rise yung minumungkahi ko na itawag na natin Talampas ng Pilipinas,” he added.

(The entirety of the West Philippine Sea should be institutionalized, just as Benham Rise, which I recommended be called Talampas ng Pilipinas.)

In August, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Tolentino said that the Senate will  fast-track the passage of the Philippine Maritime Zones bill amid China’s release of the new 10-dash line map which places nearly the entire South China Sea within its national boundaries.

Earlier, Tolentino explained that the proposed Maritime Zones Act will establish the extent of Philippine jurisdiction over its exclusive zones and its continental shelf.

The lawmaker said this will be passed along with another measure that will establish the Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes.

Currently, there are seven bills filed on the Philippine Maritime Zones Act while there are four bills on the Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes.

In July, the Senate created a special committee to tackle measures relating to baselines, maritime zones, archipelagic sea lanes, and other matters relevant to the protection of Philippine territory. —VAL, GMA Integrated News