Law of the Sea 1972 to 1984
During his political career my father has authored, co-authored, or sponsored more than 2,000 bills and chaired or sat on scores of committee. He had been the Philippine delegate at the U.N. General Assembly and various commission and conferences around the world.
Some of the laws he has helped pass, like his “anti-graft law” have become major milestone in Philippine legislative history.
As House Majority Floor Leader his interest in the law of the Sea was born. In 1956, the U.N. General Assembly considered the calling of an International Conference to revise and codify this law. My father was a member of the Philippine delegation to this assembly that year. His intervention in the consideration of Law of the Sea subjects was to lead him to a task lasting many years, when he became know as the father of the “archipelago doctrine” and the Philippine expert on Law of the Sea.
Based on the law of the sea, he said, the Philippines has asserted sovereign control over the seas extending up to 200 miles from the shores. This expanded the territorial maritime areas of the country.
"The law of the sea, crafted by Tolentino, is therefore very beneficial, not just to the Philippines because we are an archipelagic country," but also to the other countries who are now enjoying the benefits of the 200 miles limits, like Canada for example.
Once I had a chance to ask my father what he really would like to be remembered for. He replied very sincerely, “I wish people will remember me for the Law of the Sea.” Most people I spoke to during my research when I was writing my father’s biography, Que Sera, Sera agreed that my father’s efforts in negotiating the Law of the Sea will long be remembered, but no one stated it so simply or more eloquently than Manuel Ocampo, his friend from high school days.
Manuel Ocampo said:
“I considered his crowning glory, the one that will put him in our history books is the Law of Sea. Even if he had done nothing else, this would have been enough. Not all wise men become President.”
LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION RATIFIED
The Batasang Pambansa , February 22, 1984 ratified the convention of the law of the sea. Sponsored by assemblyman Arturo M. Tolentino who headed the Filipino delegation to the 12 year UN conference which codified the progressive development on the law of the sea. The convention is the first treaty the Batasang Pambansa has ratified. The United States did not sign the convention although there are 134 signatories.
Tolentino said that among the benefits the Philippines will derive are:
- Ownership of the Philippines over all minerals, oils and living resources in the waters and the sea bed and sub soil of the archipelago.
- The 200 miles exclusive economic zone around the island and the continental shelf even beyond 200 miles from the shore.
- Increase even in the waters under Philippine jurisdiction including the exclusive economic zone by more than 93 million hectares.
- Recognition of the law of the ‘archipelago principle’ which the Philippines has been advocating since 1956.
- Acceptance of the Philippines by the International Community as a single political economic and geographic unit with no international waters between the different islands.
At the 50th anniversary of the Law of the Sea March 7, 2005: