Tell it to SunStar: No legal mention

SunStar Tell it
SunStar Tell it

By Bukidnon 2nd District Rep. Jonathan Keith Flores, committee on government reorganization chairman, committee on justice vice chairman

If we are to properly and effectively assert our country’s sovereign rights and coastal state rights in the West Philippine Sea, the words “West Philippine Sea” should be on all the necessary and relevant maps, textbooks, radio challenges and notices to mariners, aircraft navigators and pilots.

We need new maps showing the West Philippine Sea. Google Maps, navigational maps used by all local and international ships and aircraft, and maps in Philippine textbooks should all show where the West Philippine Sea is. Encyclopedias should also show where the West Philippine Sea is.

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority’s (Namria) Philippine administrative map should be made widely available locally and overseas, including in all our country’s textbooks and in all public school classrooms nationwide.

The Namria’s Philippine administrative map that shows the West Philippine Sea and the Spratly Islands should be made an integral part of the proposed Philippine Maritime Zones Act now at the bicameral conference committee phase.

Notably, nowhere on Google Maps can you find the name “West Philippine Sea,” but the name “South China Sea” is there, smack in the middle of Southeast Asia. The Philippine Sea is there, but the Philippine Rise is not.

I cite Google Maps because that is now the most widely used map in the whole world.

In the Arbitral Award ruled in favor of the Philippines, the name and location of the West Philippine Sea are not on any of the four maps used in the ruling for illustrative purposes only. But the words South China Sea are all on those four maps.

When the Chinese Coast Guard issues radio challenges to Philippine ships and other sea vessels, they say “China Sea.” When the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) issues its radio challenges to the Chinese Coast Guard, it does not say “West Philippine Sea,” but the PCG says “Exclusive Economic Zone” and “Territorial Sea.”

Administrative Order 29, dated Sept. 5, 2012, is the legal document stating the West Philippine Sea. But this is not a law.

Republic Act 9522, which defines the Philippine archipelagic baselines, does not mention the West Philippine Sea anywhere in its provisions.

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