MANILA - Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent a measure that would designate sea lanes where foreign ships could pass through on Philippine waters.
Carpio made the remark as the Philippines filed another protest against China over the unannounced passage of its warships on the country's waters.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, any foreign vessel may be allowed to cross a coastal state’s territorial waters without notifying the state if they are conducting innocent passage, or movement in a straight path heading back out to sea.
"The law can require foreign ships exercising the right to archipelagic sea lane passage to turn on their Automatic Identification System (AIS) and for submarines to surface and show their flag," Carpio said in a statement.
"The bill has been pending in Congress for years now. The President should certify it as an urgent measure."
A measure seeking to designate sea lanes in the country's waters has been filed annually at the House of Representatives since 2015. The latest to submit the bill was Magdalo Partylist Rep. Manuel Cabochan in the 18th Congress.
In 2016, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes filed the Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act which was still pending at the committee level, according to the Senate's official website.
The Philippines earlier protested the passage of Chinese warships through Sibutu Strait without prior clearance, and the swarm of 113 Chinese vessels around Filipino-occupied Pag-asa Island.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the Chinese warships' passage were "not so innocent anymore."
- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News