Hon. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Foreign Relations delivered the webinar’s keynote address. Senator Pimentel emphasized that the establishment of the country’s archipelagic sea lanes will be a matter of negotiation and compromise between the Philippines and the international community. He also explained that in the exercise of establishing the archipelagic sea lanes, the Philippines must be guided by two principles. One, its duties as a member of the international community. Two, its rights as a sovereign state and steward of its people’s interests.
The webinar hosted renowned maritime experts who spoke on the practice and examples of archipelagic sea lanes. Dr. Damos Dumoli Agusman, Director-General for International Law and Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia, spoke about Indonesia’s adoption of the ASLs and the challenges they faced when they first established them. He also talked about Indonesia’s continuing implementation challenges despite having assigned their ASLs in 1995. Prof. Robert Beckman, Professor Emeritus and Head of the Centre for International Law, Ocean Law Policy Programme of the National University of Singapore, explained the advantages that will accrue to the Philippines should the country decide to designate its own ASLs. Moreover, he gave numerous recommendations how to approach the designation of ASLs should the Philippines decide to establish them. He also gave recommendations with respect to the negotiation process in establishing ASLs. Atty. Fretti Ganchoon, Senior State Counsel, Department of Justice, outlined the legal history of the Philippines regarding ASLs and what the process would entail should the Philippines decide to push through. She also highlighted the urgency of designating ASLs due to the repeated incidents in 2019 wherein foreign warships transited the Sibutu Passage without prior notification to the Philippine authorities, without turning on their AIS transponders, and without responding to Philippine communications. The webinar event was attended by various government agencies and members of civil society organizations. Screenshots of the event found below.