Gov’t set to bring to UN ‘West Philippine Sea map’
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to bring to the United Nations (UN) an official map of the country that reflects the West Philippine Sea, after President Benigno Aquino III signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 29 officially renaming South China Sea to the “West Philippine Sea of the Republic of the Philippines.”
“The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs in consultation with Namria [National Mapping and Resource Information Authority], their appropriate government agencies, shall deposit, at the appropriate time, a copy of this order enclosing the official map reflecting the West Philippine Sea with the secretary general of the United Nations and notify accordingly relevant international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names,” according to Section 4 of the AO.
Aquino signed the AO last September 5 and details the claim of the country over the seas west of the archipelago. “These areas include the Luzon Sea as well as the waters around, within, and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo De Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal,” it said.
But despite this, Aquino said in an ambush interview Wednesday that a dialogue with Chinese President Hu Jintao was still “the way to move forward” with the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
Aquino said that he was supposed to meet President Hu at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in Vladivostok, Russia recently but due to the earthquake in China, Hu was not able to attend.
He however said that their relationship was “a little less cold” than what it was before and that the Chinese President was receptive to the idea of holding a dialogue.
“There seems to be a – I can’t say warmed up relations already, but a little less cold than what it was. So that seems to be the way forward,” Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview.
When asked if the AO would help the Philppines’ claim in the region, Aquino said that he wanted to clarify the territory being claimed as opposed to the entire South China Sea.
He said that because of the many nations claiming the area, it was important for the country to clearly part claimed for the Philippines.
“I am still hoping that we can have a dialogue where we can have a heart-to-heart talk and there will be sharing of all of our thoughts in total honesty and openness. So that seems to be the way forward to settle all of these things,” Aquino added.
When asked if there were efforts to have the dialogue push through, Aquino said that the Vladivostok meeting was one of those efforts. “They seem receptive to the idea of moving forward,” Aquino said.
China, which claims the entire region as the South China Sea, has been aggressively asserting its claim despite protests from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.
Tensions have risen between the Philippines and China when several Chinese fishing vessels were caught by the Philippine Navy poaching in the Scarborough shoal.
The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest before the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS), but China insisted on bilateral talks.
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