Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi signed the Protocols of Exchange of the instruments of ratification concerning the delimitation of the EEZ between the two countries on the sidelines of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
Photo by Anthony Cornista/DFA
Philippines-Indonesia sea border pact takes effect
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The historic agreement between the Philippines and Indonesia that establishes the boundary of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) took effect on Thursday after two decades of negotiations, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi signed the Protocols of Exchange of the instruments of ratification concerning the delimitation of the EEZ between the two countries on the sidelines of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

“The agreement is expected to benefit both countries, economically and politically, by promoting more bilateral cooperation in the EEZ in order to advance the common interest of managing and preserving the resources in the EEZ and further strengthening maritime security cooperation between the two countries,” the DFA said in a statement late Thursday.

The treaty, first discussed in June 1994, was formally signed by the two countries in May 2014 in Manila. It was ratified by President Duterte on Feb. 15, 2017 and by the Indonesian Parliament on April 27, 2017.

The Philippines and Indonesia have overlapping EEZs in the Mindanao and Celebes seas, and in the southern section of the Philippine Sea in the Pacific Ocean.

Both countries are parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and are entitled to EEZ of 200 nautical miles.

Under the convention, states have sovereign rights to explore and exploit, and conserve and manage natural resources, among others, within their EEZ.

Such pact can serve as a model among states with overlapping economic zones to resolve their disputes in accordance with international law, such as the UNCLOS.

For decades, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, China and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.

China insists it has historic rights over the disputed waters where huge minerals, natural oil and gas deposits have been discovered in several areas.

For the past years, Beijing has been building artificial islands in the South China Sea, converting them into military facilities.

In July 2016, the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash line claim.

However, Beijing has refused to recognize the ruling. 

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