Senate creates new special panel on maritime, admiralty matters

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The Senate has created a special committee that will exclusively tackle proposed measures relating to maritime zones and sea lanes, which will convene for the first time this week, Sen. Francis Tolentino said.

"Come Sept. 14, the newly created Special Senate Maritime and Admiralty Zones committee will be convening for the first time and we will tackle the Maritime Zone bill for the first time," Tolentino said Tuesday, during a joint panel inquiry into West Philippine Sea issues.

"Thereafter, we will be tackling the Archipelagic Sea Lanes bill and after that, we hope to finish Senate Bill 654 and that is the Philippine Navy Archipelagic Defense Act."

The special panel, which will be chaired by Tolentino, was proposed last July to tackle key maritime issues and legislation.

It was created amid heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing due to the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

In August, the Senate condemned China's incursions and its harassment of Filipino civilian and government vessels in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Some recent transgressions by Beijing include its coast guard’s use of water cannon on Filipino vessels, its failed attempt to block another resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, and its newly issued 10-dash line map which extended the superpower's claim to cover most of the South China Sea.