Western maritime areas named as West Philippine Sea-A A +A
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
MANILA (Updated, 3:28 p.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III has issued an administrative order officially naming the maritime areas on the western side of the Philippine archipelago as West Philippine Sea.
By virtue of Administrative Order (AO) 29 signed by the President on September 5, the Luzon Sea and the waters around, within and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, will be referred to as West Philippine Sea.
In accordance with the order, Aquino directed the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) to produce public charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the West Philippine Sea.
All government agencies are directed to use and employ the name West Philippine Sea in all communications, messages and public documents, to popularize the use of such name in the general public, both domestically and internationally, the AO said.
The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), and state universities and colleges (SUCs) are likewise directed to issue circulars requiring the use of official Philippine maps in relevant subjects, researches and instructional materials, such as, among others, text books, instructional materials, and audio-visual presentations.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is also instructed to furnish a copy of the order and official map to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and notify other international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
"The naming of the West Philippine Sea is without prejudice to the determination of the maritime domain over territories which the Republic of the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction," the AO said.
Relations between Philippines and China have been strained by a territorial dispute over the islands in the West Philippine Sea, which China referred to as South China Sea.
President Aquino cited Presidential Decree 1599, which established the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines extending to a distance of two hundred nautical miles from the baselines of the Philippine archipelago.
He added the Republic Act 9522, or the Baselines Law, specifically defined and described the baselines of the Philippines.
"The Philippines exercises sovereign rights under the principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), to explore and exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources, whether living or non-living, both renewable and non-renewable, of the sea-bed, including the subsoil and the adjacent waters, and to conduct other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of its maritime domain, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds," he said.
"The Philippines exercises sovereign jurisdiction in its EEZ with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures; marine scientific research; protection and preservation of the marine environment; and other rights and duties provided for in Unclos," he further said.
In the exercise of sovereign jurisdiction, the President said "the Philippines has the inherent power and right to designate its maritime areas with appropriate nomenclature for purposes of the national mapping system."
The Namria is directed to ensure compliance with the order.
The expenditures, which may be incurred in the implementation of the AO, will be funded from the existing annual budget of the concerned agencies, subject to the usual accounting and auditing rules and regulations.
The order shall take effect immediately. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)