The Law of the Sea

Arturo M. Tolentino: I wish people will remember me for The Law of the Sea


Funeral Procession

Tolentino returns to Senate, DFA for last rites

Former Vice President Arturo M. Tolentino, who died of heart failure Monday evening at 94, will return one last time today at the august halls of the Philippine Senate where he served as Senator with distinction and integrity for many years, for necrological services.

Following the Senate rites, his remains will be brought to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) where he served as Minister from 1984 to 1985. Tolentino’s long stint in the Upper Chamber earned him a niche among the intellectual heavyweights of the Senate during the golden years of the nation’s history that included Jose Diokno, Camilo Osias, Gil Puyat, Eulogio Rodriguez, Ferdinand Marcos, Claro M. Recto, Jose Roy, Mariano Cuenco and Ninoy Aquino, among others.

One of the country’s highly respected and leading constitutionalists, Tolentino served the public for 47 years as a writer, diplomat, congressman, Senate President, Senate majority and minority floor leader, ambassador and as head of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations. He took pride in having authored the Anti-Graft Law and the Civil Service Law among the volumes of books he had written including his "Voice of Dissent," an autobiography of his political life published in 1991.

But it was Tolentino’s crusade to make the "Archipelagic Doctrine" to be a part and parcel of history books and the United Nations Journals that took center stage. He fought for the recognition of this doctrine at a time when powerful nations imposed a three-mile territorial radius of smaller countries to assume jurisdiction over marine activities such as fishing, mining, and oil exploration. Because of Tolentino’s doctrine, small nations like the Philippines were able to widen the size of their original three-mile territorial limit to a 200-kilometer economic zone.

A consistent valedictorian in his school years, Tolentino topped the bar after graduating cum laude from the University of the Philippines and became member of the Colegion de Abogados in Madrid, Spain.

The University of Santo Tomas and UP College of Law awarded him the recognition as their "most outstanding alumnus."

He died Monday, August 2, 2004.

Tolentino’s remains lie at the Santuario de San Jose in East Greenhills in Mandaluyong, where the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) will hold necrological services at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Philconsa is headed by chairman Manuel "Lolong" Lazaro and president Conrado Estrella.

Interment will be on Saturday at the Libingan ng mga Bayani after the 1:30 p.m. mass at the Santuario de San Jose.

International laws

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. yesterday said the late Sen. Arturo Tolentino will be remembered for his invaluable contributions to the framing of national and international laws that have greatly benefited Filipinos and the rest of mankind. Pimentel said what may be considered as Tolentino’s greatest legacy in the field of international law was his participation in the crafting of the law of the sea which is even recognized by the United Nations. He said the law of the sea was an innovative legislation "that has become an international guideline for the demarcation and protection of the continental shelf of nations."

Based on the law of the sea, he said, the Philippines has asserted sovereign control over the seas extending up to 200 kilometers from the shores. This expanded the territorial maritime areas of the country.

"The law of the sea, crafted by Tolentino, is therefore very beneficial to the Philippines because we are an archipelagic country."

Necrological rites at DFA

The late statesman and Vice President Arturo Tolentino, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Marcos administration, will be honored with the traditional necrological service this afternoon at the Department of Foreign Affairs building along Roxas Blvd. in Pasay City.

Eulogies will be delivered by former DFA Undersecretary Rosario Manalo, and Undersecretaries Rafael Seguis and Franklin Ebdalin. DFA Undersecretary Jose Brillantes will read a eulogy in behalf of DFA Secretary Delia Albert.

Tolentino was both a political figure and a constitutional and legal luminary. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1984 to 1985. As foreign minister, he created the Board of Overseas Economic Promotion and the Technical Secretariat for International Economic Relations, precursors of what is today the Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations. Tolentino also headed Philippine delegations to various international conferences including those that led to the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

His remains will be at the DFA from 2 p.m. until 4:10 p.m. today to allow officers and personnel, friends and colleagues to pay their final respects. (David Cagahastian)

Senate contributions

Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, in a press statement, expressed his personal grief for the late Sen. Arturo Tolentino who he considered as a personal friend having worked closely with him in the Senate from 1992 to 1995. "I was the majority leader during the term of the late Senator Tolentino and I recall always seeking his advice on parliamentary rules and procedures because he was considered the sage of the Senate.His bereaved family is assured that Arturo Tolentino has now achieved immortality. Our people shall remember him with reverence and affection. After all, his record as a legislator and constitutionalist is perfection personified. The challenge remains for our legislators to live up to the intellectual standards set by the humble Ka Turing who despite his genius, was a voracious reader and assiduous student of both history and current affairs," Romulo said.

Manila cites ‘favorite son’

Manila Councilor Ma. Lourdes "Bonjay" Isip-Garcia filed a resolution yesterday extolling former Sen. Arturo Tolentino. The resolution, unanimously concurred in by all the members of the council, cited Tolentino’s brilliant political career which started as Representative of the Sampaloc district of Manila. Tolentino later went on to become assemblyman, senator, Senate President, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Vice President. The resolution praised Tolentino as a true son of Manila, who rose to become one of the country’s experts on constitutional law and a highly esteemed lawmaker.

The flags in the whole city of Manila will fly halfmast to honor the passing of one of its most brilliant political figures. A graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law and a bar topnotcher, Tolentino was a prominent senator during his heyday in the pre-martial Law years.

He ran as vice-presidential running mate of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential election.