In The Know: The Scarborough Shoal


IMPASSE AT HIGH SEAS The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, the country’s biggest warship, figures in a tense standoff with Chinese surveillance ships at the Scarborough Shoal. EDWIN BACASMAS

The Scarborough Shoal (Philippine name: Panatag Shoal; Chinese name: Huangyan Dao) is a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and islands surrounding a lagoon covering an area of 150 square kilometers.

The closest Philippine land mass is Palauig in Zambales province, 220 km away. It is also 350 km from Manila and more than 800 km southeast of Hong Kong.

Several islands in Scarborough are 3 meters high, while many of the reefs are below water at high tide. Several rocks also dot Scarborough, the most prominent of which is South Rock, 1.8 meters above water at high tide.

Not part of Spratlys

Abundant marine resources in the area attract fishermen from both China and the Philippines, which both claim it as part of their territory.

It is however not part of the Spratly Islands where China, the Philippines and four other Asian nations are embroiled in a separate territorial quarrel.

In 1965, the Philippine Navy constructed an iron tower near the mouth of  Scarborough’s lagoon.

In 1995, China and the Philippines signed a code of conduct pledging to solve their dispute by peaceful means.

Hundreds of ships pass through the vicinity of Scarborough. A 1999 bulletin by the University of Durham International Boundaries Research Unit said Japan used the route to transport 80 percent of its petroleum from the Middle East.

On June 6, 2011, following news of tension between China and the Philippines over territorial claims, the provincial board of Zambales endorsed the claim of Masinloc town over the Scarborough Shoal to “strengthen the claim of the Philippines on that area.” Inquirer Research

Sources: National Mapping and Resource Information Authority; Scarborough Evening News; Ibru Boundary and Security Bulletin; Inquirer Archives

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • EdgarEdgar

    Taking a page out of history:

    There’s no way we can demand China to back off with a military showdown. At least not for now. But the US can be convinced to take advantage of a business opportunity. In fact, the CIA will more than love it as they’ve done this before (source: Alfred McCoy). Why not export Taliban opium from Afghanistan to China? That way, the US and Taliban can forge a business alliance and weaken China from within. The Brits, French and Americans successfully brought China down on her knees two centuries ago. With nothing other than substance abuse. With the Chinese wafting in narco-nirvana, Asia will be peaceful again. Just a suggestion.

    • Tama Lang

       One word to describe your suggestion. Palpak!!  When we make comments our audiences are millions of our fellow Filipinos, so please make positive sense.

      • EdgarEdgar

        Tama Lang, you must be a chink like Noynoy hiding under a Filipino name, passing yourself off as one of us. Your words betray you.

      • TGM_ERICK

         EdgarEdgar I read from the Daily Tribune that Scarborough Shoal is really owned by the Chinese.  They call it Huayang.
         Kindly say something about this.

      • EdgarEdgar

        Depends on who’s talking. The chinks have all sorts of claims backed by all sorts of ancient maps from their ‘glorious’ ancient past, until they were brought down to their knees by opium. They even have a name for Luzon, Lingayen Gulf, some sultanates of Manila, and the area of Sulu. Mostly the places part of their ancient sea trade route. While the world has moved on to nation-state and modern territorial boundary conventions, China is still stuck in the past. Ironic for a country that has seen so much economic modernization.

      • TGM_ERICK

        Lim a hong was one of China’s sea pirate if my history serves me right. :-)))

      • JackWaKawski

        Not because they have a name for it would mean they own it… right? For everything they have a name… Thought about it?

      • TGM_ERICK

        You’re right. Anyway I just read about it in the Tribune. It doesn’t do any harm at all if i explore the correctness of that thing that I read. Thank you. You and EdgarEdgar have similar responses. :-)

      • Elroy Ampuller

          I also read it from the Tribune but what i understand is the Tribune only quoted it from the chinese ambassador so its normal they will claim it that they own it since ancient times…The Tribune only quoted them not that the Tribune confirmed their ownership…If we base on modern international law of the seas or UNCLOS which was signed also by China it belongs to The Philippines….

      • TGM_ERICK

        I read what i wrote from Ninez Olivarez’commentary. I tried to get a copy of it but i couldn’t.

      • dgboy

         sows as if napakabayani mo, eh avatar mo palang foreigner na eh.

      • EdgarEdgar

        Gotcha! Here’s another chink reacting strongly in defense of his other chinks. Your kind are so easy to bait. Chinks invariably react like you dgboy. At the mention of opium war and national humiliation, chinks get so riled up. You’re too obvious dgboy. Instead of attacking me, why don’t you ask your chinky brothers to back off? I hope you haven’t renounced your Filipino citizenship. Lol!


      The opium war between China and Britain. The Chinese during the Spanish era brought the addiction here as can be gleaned from Noli. :-)))

  • indiots

    just in time ang pagkakabili ng warship, kelangan mga jetfighter pa.

    kakampi ang amerika sa pilipinas lalo pa at may mas malawak pang oil deposit na malayo at di pweding angkinin ng china. pangangalagaan ng amerika ang sariling interest nito sa pilipinas.

    ang japan at ang vietnam mas lalong asar sa china.. kaya, go, Pnoy go! big brothers are just around.

    • efriend

      using PI is as jurassic as the Chinese historical claim. It’s PHL not PI.

  • PulSamsara

    How can this be the largest vessel in the PI navy ?  Invest in a more robust navy.  The PI has friends – but they must also take the initiative.  China will.

  • ellehcaR, Y.

    the most intriguing thing is, the chinese government is supporting this illegal fishing activities…how can this be? collecting or taking out endangered aquatic species especially corals that house school of fishes … hmmm …

    you cannot blame the Philippine Navy , they can only get funds to the national government , hmmm if the government are seriously supporting it… aside from it ,we are a third world country ,we cannot afford to buy such ship, the only thing that’s possible is that confiscating from the corrupt officials and pagsamasamahin yon maybe we can buy a much more bigger and hightech ship … hmmmm second hand again… the only thing we can afford…

  • juan_liwanag

    If China is truly convinced of the validity of its claims to our Panatag Shoal, which is within our Exclusive Economic Zone, by merely invoking “historic titles” then why did it also ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)? This very act showed that it does not believe the legal strength of its claim. And when it ratified the UNCLOS, it in effect surrendered its claims that are in conflict with the provisions of UNCLOS. As the more recent and binding internationally recognized legal basis of settling claims, the UNCLOS should be respected by the ratifying parties. The Phl should immediately raise this issue before the United Nations. We should not tolerate the lawlessness of China.

    • JackWaKawski

      This will be David and Goliath.

  • jose_rizal11

    c gloria 9 years na nakaupo wala man lang naidagdag na asset sa AFP, gusto pa ibenta ung spratlys sa tsekwa!!!!

  • jus_sayinagain

     “The relatively early release of information about the Dallas acquisition is in stark contrast to the PF-15 acquisition, whose existence had been unannounced for more than half of the project’s life.

    Based on early Timawa-community reports, plans to obtain the USCGC Hamilton — which became the PF-15 — were reportedly hatched in the closing months of the Arroyo administration.

    The PF-15′s own JVI team reportedly completed it’s inspection in November 2010, roughly the same time of year as the Dallas. But the first acknowledgement of the incoming Hamilton did not come till January, and its identity wasn’t known till March. In the case of the Dallas, the intent to acquire additional Hamilton class WHECs had been made public in August of this year, and the selected ship identified four months later.” (PH Defense Today).

    Announcements by the Aquino administration are released with less prudence…….

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