Duterte asserts PH rights on key maritime territories
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday asserted the Philippines’ rights to some of the country’s key maritime territories amid fresh criticisms of his supposed kowtowing to China’s expansive claim in the West Philippine Sea.
Speaking at the 72nd anniversary of the Philippine Air Force, Duterte recognized the country’s rights over the Malampaya gas field and the Philippine Rise.
“I acknowledge your unwavering commitment to your sworn duty to protect our territorial lines of defense through aerial reconnaissance and maritime patrol missions in the West Philippine Sea and of course which is really ours — the Philippine Rise,” Duterte said.
“Also noteworthy are your efforts in securing [the] Malampaya Natural Gas Plant off the coast of Palawan, which is ours,” he added.
The President, however, made no mention of Scarborough Shoal and other contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte’s remark came after the ramming and sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank, an area believed to be rich with gas deposit.
READ: China fishing vessel sinks Filipino boat after ‘collision’ in West Philippine Sea
The Malampaya gas field is located 80 kilometers off the coast of Palawan and is the only operational oil platform in the Philippines to date. Unlike Recto Bank, it is not claimed by China.
Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which guarantees the country’s exclusive rights to the natural resources in the area, but it was claimed by China as part of its ambitious nine-dash line claim.
Beijing’s expansive claim encircles as much as 90 percent of the contested waters, which was invalidated by a 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague that recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in areas within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
However, China refused to honor the PCA ruling while Duterte opted to set it aside. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.