Philippines, Indonesia define sea borders

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2014 01:30 PM | Updated as of May 24 2014 09:06 AM

MANILA - The Philippines and Indonesia on Friday signed an agreement delimiting the conflicting exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the two countries in the Mindanao, Celebes and Philippine Seas.

The agreement was one of those signed as Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and wife, Mrs. Ani Bambang Yudhoyono, went to Malacanang for a state visit.

In the joint statement, Yudhoyono, speaking in his mother tongue, hailed the EEZ agreement as an example that any border dispute can be resolved peacefully without the use of military might.

Yudhoyono also congratulated the Philippines for signing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro aimed at bringing peace to Mindanao. He said the agreement is also proof that any conflict can be resolved peacefully.

For his part, President Aquino hailed the EEZ agreement with Indonesia as a milestone agreement founded on international law. He said the agreement is solid proof of Philippine commitment to the rule of law and the peaceful settlement on maritime concerns.

"This is a milestone agreement that is founded on the principles of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It serves as solid proof to our steadfast commitment to uphold the rule of law and pursue the peaceful and equitable settlement of maritime concerns," he said.

The agreement includes the annexed charts showing the EEZ Boundary of the Philippines and Indonesia in the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea in the southern Philippines and in the Philippine Sea on the southern section of the Pacific Ocean.

It is the result of 20 years of negotiations to delimit the overlapping EEZs of the two countries.

The Agreement on the EEZ Boundary was reached on the basis of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the state practice and decisions of international tribunals on maritime boundary delimitation.

It is the result of a rules-based negotiation to peacefully resolve maritime issues between two archipelagic states.

This is the first maritime boundary treaty of the Philippines.

The EEZ boundary line defines the limits of the sea space in the Southern Philippines thereby giving our fishermen and other stakeholders a clear extent of the area where they can exercise the sovereign rights over the waters as provided for by national laws and treaties including the 1982 UNCLOS.

The EEZ boundary will also enhance the efforts of government agencies to enforce Philippine fishing, maritime and security laws.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China over its reclamation activities in Mabini Reef, and its presence in the Ayungin Shoal and Spratlys.

Another regional neighbor, Vietnam, saw riots that torched Chinese factories in their country after China was discovered to have an oil rig in the Paracel Islands that Vietnam also claims.

In a speech to the World Economic Forum on East Asia Thursday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warned that the disputes in the region endanger the economy.