MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine military on Wednesday said it supports the proposal to change the name of the South China Sea to Western Philippine Sea.
“Definitely, definitely… we have been doing that for quite some time,” Armed Forces spokesman Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez told reporters that the military has been using the name West Philippine Sea to call the vicinity of the disputed Spratly Island group for the last five years.
“When people keep referring to the South China Sea, there is a subliminal message that this sea belongs to a country whose name appears in the name,” Rodriguez said.
He added that other claimant countries have a different name for the sea.
“Vietnam calls it East Sea and China calls it South China Sea. We in the Philippines should call it West Philippine Sea,” the military spokesman said.
Akbayan party-list representative Walden Bello has proposed the renaming of the South China Sea to further bolster the country’s claim over some islands in the disputed Spratlys.
Rodriguez also pointed outthat though the modernization program of the military is meant to also better address the Spratly’s issue, the defense capability upgrade is not directed to any specific country.
“We are purchasing equipment specifically to address the requirements of the Kalayaan (part of Spratlys) island group but this is a nationwide modernization upgrade that we are doing, which is the right of any self-respecting nation,'” Rodriguez said.
“We are not doing any arms buildup. There’s no arms race here because our defense is not geared towards any one nation. It is just for us to be able to put up a respectable defense posture so that we can do our constitutional mandate of protecting the Filipino people,” Rodriguez added.