A CONGRESSMAN on Wednesday urged the House of Representatives to prioritize the approval of a bill that seeks to designate sea lanes and air routes for continuous sailing or flight of foreign ships and aircraft.

“No Chinese or any [foreign] vessel should be allowed in our waters without our approval unless for innocent passage in the designated archipelagic sea lanes,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, who filed House Bill 2465 or the proposed Philippine Archipelagic Sea Lanes Act, said in a statement.

“The vessels or planes shall not deviate more than 25 nautical miles from the designated passage routes,” he said. “They shall not do any activity other than transiting expeditiously.”

He cited the need to penalize arbitrary passage by Chinese and other foreign ships and planes in Philippine archipelagic and adjacent territorial waters.

“Transiting ships and planes shall be prohibited from conducting any oceanography or hydrographic survey or research activity unless permitted by the Philippine government,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

The bill imposes a jail term or a fine of $1.2 million or both on the ship master or plane captain or operator for violation of the proposed law.

The House approved a similar measure in the previous Congress, but the Senate failed to pass a counterpart bill. — Kyanna Angela Bulan