Philippines, Indonesia settle maritime boundaries

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 20 2014 03:38 AM | Updated as of May 20 2014 11:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - After 20 years, the Philippines and Indonesia have completed talks for the delimitation of overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday the two countries have finalized the text of the “Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Indonesia Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary” and the chart on the EEZ Boundary.

“Both sides have satisfactorily reached an agreement on all issues,” said DFA spokesman Charles Jose.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia and Wiwiek Setyawati Firman, acting director-general for legal affairs and international treaties in the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, endorsed the signing of the agreement by their respective governments at the soonest possible time.

The two officials presided over the 8th Meeting of the Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns held on May 18 in Jakarta.

“The conclusion of the negotiations attests to the friendship, patience, goodwill and commitment of the governments of the Philippines and Indonesia to peacefully address maritime issues. This is a significant contribution to, and an example of, reasonable efforts to build a stable and peaceful regional community, in consideration of the interests of countries concerned and in accordance with international law,” Garcia said in his opening remarks.

The charts illustrating the EEZ boundary were signed on behalf of the Philippines by Peter Tiangco, administrator of the National Mapping and Resources Information Authority, and Capt. Jacinto Cablayan, director of the Hydrography Branch of NAMRIA; and Asep Karsidi, head of the Indonesian Geospatial Information Agency and Dede Yuliadi, chief hydrographer of the Hydro-Oceanographic Office of the Indonesian Navy for Indonesia.

Garcia stressed the importance of a clearly defined maritime boundary between the two countries, saying it will “promote more cooperation in the EEZ in order to advance our common interest of managing and preserving the resources in the EEZ for the benefit of our peoples.”

He said the Philippines learned a lot of lessons in the 20-year negotiations with Indonesia, particularly on the principles and methods applied to reach an EEZ boundary line.

Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Maria Rosario Aguinaldo and Gilberto Asuque, head of the Philippine technical working group on maritime boundary delimitation and deputy chief of mission of the Philippine embassy in Tokyo, assisted Garcia during the meeting, along with the other members of the Philippine delegation.

A preparatory meeting of the technical team was held on May 17 also in Jakarta, where diplomats, hydrographers and cartographers of the two countries prepared the text of the agreement and details of the EEZ chart.

The Philippines and Indonesia started negotiations for the delimitation of their overlapping EEZs in June 1994.