Malacanang said the other claimants to the disputed West Philippine Sea shouldn’t view an administrative order signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III as provocative because the Philippines isn’t claiming the territory in its entirety.
Early this month, President Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 29, entitled “Naming the West Philippine Sea of the Republic of the Philippines, and for other purposes.”
The order renamed South China Sea waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as West Philippine Sea.
Taiwan has opposed the move, and observers said other claimants might also view this as antagonistic on the part of the Philippines.
“They shouldn’t be,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a regular press conference in Malacanang on Thursday when asked by reporters about the possible implications of the new order.
“The terming of the West Philippine Sea covers those parts of the exclusive economic zone. I am certain that those who are signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would recognize that the portions only covered by the EEZ were called the West Philippine Sea. We are not claiming the entire South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea. That was made very, very clear yesterday and also in the AO itself.”
Other claimants shouldn’t be threatened, Lacierda said, because the Philippines is just covering its exclusive economic zone which is provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.
Lacierda said that other claimant countries such as Vietnam called the portion of the South China Sea as the East Sea.
Asked by reporters what prompted the government to issue the Administrative Order 29, Lacierda said that since the term West Philippine Sea has been frequently used in discussions in the Cabinet and foreign affairs, Malacanang felt that it should be formalized through an AO.
The Palace official also said that Malacanang believes that renaming the South China Sea doesn’t require legislative action and an AO is sufficient to rename the portions of the exclusive economic zone as West Philippine Sea.
Portions or the entire South China Sea are being claimed by several countries like the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and other ASEAN-member countries. The area is a major sea lane for international trade and commerce and is believed to be rich in mineral and oil resources.