Palace: AO 29 not meant to stir up tension-A A +A
Thursday, September 13, 2012
MALACAÑANG said Thursday that President Benigno Aquino III's administrative order on the West Philippine Sea should not stir up tension among countries laying claims to areas in the South China Sea.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said calling maritime areas in the western part of the Philippines, which are part of its exclusive economic zone, as West Philippine Sea is just a "regular step."
"How does one threaten other nations when what we've called the West Philippine Sea covers the exclusive economic Zone, which is provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea? So we see nothing wrong with what we claim as part of our sovereign rights under the Unclos," Lacierda said.
The People's Republic of China pooh-poohed on Thursday the official renaming of the Philippine government of some parts of the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea under Aquino's Administrative Order (AO) 29.
In a message sent by the Chinese Embassy in Manila, it quoted China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei as saying that the order of Aquino will not change any of the facts already recognized by the international community.
"South China Sea has been for a long time a geographic name universally recognized by the international community, and is widely accepted by countries all over the world and by international organizations such as the United Nations," said Hong.
The Chinese official also stressed that the Philippine undertaking will not deter it from asserting its claims in the disputed area.
"The action of the Philippine side will not exert any change to the fact that China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea including Nansha Islands and Huangyan Island, and their adjacent waters," said Hong.
Taiwan (Republic of China) also rejected the official renaming of the Philippine government of some parts of the South China Sea.
In a report by Taiwan's Central News Agency, it quoted the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) as saying it refuses to acknowledge Aquino's issuance of AO 29 renaming the western side of the Philippine archipelago.
"Taiwan does not recognize a unilateral move by the Philippines to rename the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea of the Republic of the Philippines," Mofa was quoted as saying in a statement.
It said Aquino's order affects the separate claim of Taiwan in parts of the territory that is anchored on "history, geography or international law."
But despite Aquino's order, Taiwan said it is willing to work with other countries on exploring resources in the South China Sea.
The disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea are also being claimed entirely or in part by Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.
Under Aquino's order signed September 5, the areas to be renamed West Philippine Sea are the Luzon Sea and the waters around, within and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group, which form parts of Spratlys, and Bajo De Masinloc, which is also known as Scarborough Shoal.
"We've been calling the EEZ as West Philippine Sea so that should not be an area where should be friction among nations—Asean. So we don't see it as a cause for conflict among Asean or our other neighbors," Lacierda said.
He added AO 29 should not anger other claimant countries since they also have their own name for the areas they claim.
"In Vietnam they call their portion of the South China Sea as the East Sea. So we felt that since it's within the EEZ or the exclusive economic zone, it is but proper for us to term it as the West Philippine Sea," he said.
Lacierda said the AO cannot affect the Baseline Law, which establishes sea lanes in Philippine archipelagic waters, since an executive issuance cannot amend a law.
"Section 2 of the Baselines Law states that [the] Philippines has sovereignty over Kalayaan and Bajo de Masinloc under the Unclos, hence the AO reinforces the Philippine position and claim earlier stated under the Baselines Law," he said.
He also noted that the Kalayaan Group of Islands "was not part of the baselines of the Philippine archipelago identified in the law but the law states our claim over those island[s] and Bajo de Masinloc under the Unclos (i.e., regime of islands)." (Jill Beltran/HDT/Sunnex)