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Phl to ask safe passage through Indon’s EEZ
Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, chairman of the Republic of the Philippine Border Committee and Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the Joint Committee on Bilateral Relations will hold another meeting in Jakarta on February 24 and 25 this year.
Cruz said the issue on safe passage of fishing vessels in Indonesia’s EEZ was raised by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) during the Philippines-Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen’s Conference held last month.
“We will bring this request to higher authorities and hopefully we can settle this before the year ends,” Cruz said, adding that the route will pass from General Santos City through Indonesia’s EEZ.
Meanwhile, BFAR XI Regional Director Fatma Idris said the route is shorter and more economical that will also ensure the freshness of tuna catch in Southern Philippines.
The present navigational path of the Philippine registered fishing vessels in going to the high seas is bounded by the EEZ of the Federated States of Micronesia to the north and east, Republic of Palau to the west, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the south.
The usual route of Philippine fishing vessels in the Pacific Ocean would take 735 nautical miles, while through the Indonesian EEZ would only around 704 nautical miles, which is a lot shorter.
There are several legal bases for the approval of said request, including the United Nations on the Convention of the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) which later created the Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RMFO) and then the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).
The said organizations aim to develop resolutions, conservation and management measures related to fishing operations in the high seas at the Pacific Ocean.
“Since both countries supports the doctrines of the UNCLOS and share a common boundary then there is a concern on the recognition of safe innocent passage from GSC in the Philippines through Indonesia’s EEZ,” Idris said.
Cruz said Indonesia and the Philippines have long enjoyed a friendly relationship which is further bolstered by regular meetings such as the Joint Conference.