Latest Stories

No need to amend baselines law, says Palace



MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang on Thursday said President Benigno Aquino III’s order renaming the waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone as West Philippine Sea would not require the amendment of the Archipelagic Baselines Law.

Signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009 and upheld by the Supreme Court last year, the Archipelagic Baselines Law defines the borders of the Philippines, but does not cover the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratly archipelago and Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.

The law classifies those islands that the Philippines disputes with China as a “regime of islands” in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

On Sept. 5, Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 29 renaming the waters in the Luzon Sea and the waters “around, within and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group” and the Panatag Shoal as the West Philippine Sea.

Those areas are recognized as the Philippines’ EEZ under the Unclos.

It is not clear, however, whether the Kalayaan Island Group is within the West Philippine Sea. The Palace has yet to determine whether those islands in the Spratlys that the Philippines claims are within its EEZ.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda pointed that out in a briefing for reporters at the Palace on Thursday. Renaming the area West Philippine Sea is a “regular step” for the Philippines in the exercise of sovereignty over what has always been its territory, Lacierda said.

Aquino’s order notes that as provided under the Unclos, the Philippines has sovereign rights “to explore and exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources, whether living or nonliving, both renewable and nonrenewable,” of the waters within its EEZ.

So, Lacierda said, there is “no need to amend the Archipelago Baselines Law.”

Renaming the waters within the Philippine EEZ reinforces the country’s claim to the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys and the Panatag Shoal off Zambales province, Lacierda said.

The EEZ within the West Philippine Sea extends 370 kilometers from Philippine shores. Beyond that distance, the sea is known in Vietnam as East Sea. Up north, the waters are called East China Sea.

But China calls all those waters South China Sea and claims nearly the entire area, including parts of it claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Lacierda acknowledged that the Archipelago Baselines Law did not cover the Kalayaan Island Group. He said, however, that the chain was still part of Philippine territory under the regime of islands principle in the Unclos.

But reporters asked him: Is the Kalayaan group within the West Philippine Sea?

“That’s one thing that we’re verifying,” Lacierda answered.

“In fact, the President also mentioned that he is going to verify if the Kalayaan Island Group was part of that. So we’re looking at it,” he added. “We’re still verifying what part[s] are the disputed islands, [what parts are within] the West Philippine Sea.”

Later, Lacierda said in a text message that the order could not affect the Archipelago Baselines Law since an executive order cannot amend a law.

Asked during the briefing what had prompted the President to issue the order, Lacierda said the administration felt the use of the name West Philippine Sea should be “formalized” through an administrative order since governmental agencies were already using it in official discussions.

Noting that Taiwan had opposed the renaming of the Philippine EEZ, Lacierda said the other claimants should not see the Philippine decision as a provocation, as the country was not claiming the entire sea.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: exclusive economic zone , Features , Sea , Territory

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Suspected militant, son killed in Thailand’s south
  • Iran mother spares life of son’s killer after campaign
  • Japan to hunt fewer whales in Pacific this season
  • Deal brings no immediate change to eastern Ukraine
  • China says one-fifth of its farmland is polluted
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Marketplace