Roque Files Bill Protecting Spratlys and establishing Spratlys Development Authority


OFFICE OF REP. HARRY L. ROQUE
 
 
PRESS RELEASE
07 AUGUST 2016
REFERENCE: REP. HARRY L. ROQUE
 
 
HARRY ROQUE FILES BILLS DECLARING SPRATLYS AS PROTECTED AREA, CREATING SPRATLYS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
 
Kabayan Party-list Representative Harry L. Roque has filed two bills seeking to declare the Spratly Group of Islands a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 and creating the Spratlys Development Authority.
 
In his explanatory notes, Roque said the bills were “filed in order to strengthen the Philippines’ claim of sovereignty and sovereign rights over the Spratly group of islands and its maritime areas, a region that contains vast amounts of natural resources – including oil and gas and fisheries – vital to the growth and development of the Philippines.”
 
“To prevent the further denigration of the marine and environmental resources within the island group, the State must establish the Spratlys as a protected area, granting it both the mantle of protection under Philippine laws and the Constitution, to allow the government to properly assess and administer the area, consistent with the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in the South China Sea Arbitration case,” he said.
 
“To maximize the use and conservation of such resources, a development authority should be tasked to administer the area, following the success of the various conversion authorities under Republic Act 7227,” he added.
 
The Spratly NIPAS bill seeks to declare the Spratlys as Spratly Islands Resource reserve, with the islands classified as a national park, and its peripheral areas as buffer zone.
 
The Spratly Islands Conversion Authority (SICA), meanwhile, will have jurisdiction over the Spratlys and will be tasked to “adopt, prepare and implement a comprehensive and detailed development plan embodying a list of projects for a sound and balanced development consistent with ecological and environmental standards.”
 
The SICA will also have the power to plan, program and undertake the readjustment, relocation, or resettlement of population within the Spratly group of islands as may be deemed necessary, in coordination with the appropriate government agencies and local government units.
 
Roque filed the bills after the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in favor of the Philippines the status of many features in the contested Spratly islands and Scarborough Shoal with both scientific and legal criteria, in relation to a resource-rich Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.
 
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