‘West PH Sea’ no cause for conflict: Malacañang

The new official name for maritime areas claimed by the Philippines should not be a new source of tension, according to Malacañang

NEW "OFFICIAL" NAME. Screen grab from Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang believes that the official use of “West Philippine Sea” to refer to maritime areas surrounding territories claimed by the Philippines should not be cause for further tension.

“We’ve been calling the [Exclusive Economic Zone] EEZ as West Philippine Sea so (…) we don’t see it as a cause for conflict among ASEAN or our other neighbors,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing on Thursday, September 13.

He also clarified that “we will not be renaming the entire South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.”

Lacierda’s comments came a day after the Palace released an administrative order (AO) signed on September 5 by President Benigno Aquino III authorizing the official name for those maritime areas, which include the disputed Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

Although the government has been actively using “West Philippine Sea” instead of “South China Sea” for over a year, the move seeks to popularize the name and eventually urge the world to adopt it.

The AO covers areas “around, within, and adjacent to” the Spratlys (Kalayaan Island Group) and Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc), territories also claimed by China and other Southeast Asian countries.

Aquino’s mandate directed the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority to publish charts and maps reflecting the name “West Philippine Sea,” which should be used as much as possible by government agencies and schools should use this name as much as possible.

Lacierda confirmed the new name will be taught from now on to students and included in the new textbooks.

The President also instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs to submit the AO along with a revised Philippine map to the International Hydrographic Organization and the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names, both in order to gain international legitimacy.

So far China has not reacted to this latest development in the dispute over Scarborough Shoal. – Rappler.com

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