Indonesia to ratify EEZ agreement with Philippines

Marguerite Afra Sapiie | The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Tue, April 18, 2017 | 09:33 pm

The government and the House of Representatives are set to ratify a historic maritime agreement pertaining to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between Indonesia and the Philippines to safeguard the two countries’ maritime security from threats such as the Abu Sayyaf group.

The maritime deal, signed in 2014 after 20 years of negotiations, draws a boundary between Indonesia and the Philippines’ overlapping EEZ in Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea.

In a hearing with representatives of the Coordinating Legal, Political and Security Affairs Ministry, Law and Human Rights Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Indonesian Navy on Tuesday, lawmakers of the House of Representatives Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs agreed to ratify the maritime deal.

"If this [agreement] benefits Indonesia and its people, there is no reason for the House not to ratify it," Commission I deputy chairman and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker TB Hasanuddin, who presided over the hearing, said.

NasDem Party lawmaker Supiadin Aries Saputra said he expected the government to follow up the ratification with concrete programs that would enhance maritime defense and boost Indonesia's economy, including eradicating illegal fishing, empowering local fishermen and addressing threats from the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf group.

"If the ratification is not followed up by concrete programs, the EEZ boundary will just serve as a concept," Supiadin said.

Commission I is set to summon related ministers on April 25 to ratify the agreement. (rin)