West Philippine Sea

Philippines files claim over extended continental shelf in West PH Sea

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Philippines files claim over extended continental shelf in West PH Sea

FILING. DFA Assec for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Marshall Louis M. Alferez and PH Perm. Rep. to the UN Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo officially made the extended continental shelf submission at the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea on 14 June 2024 in New York.

DFA

'Today we secure our future by making a manifestation of our exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources in our ECS (extended continental shelf) entitlement,' says DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Marshall Louis Alferez

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has filed before the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) a claim over an extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday, June 15.

“The Philippines today, through the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York, submitted information to the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to register the country’s entitlement to an extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Palawan Region in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea,” the DFA said in a statement early Saturday.

The filing – a process that took over a decade and a half, according to the DFA – was made amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.

“Incidents in the waters tend to overshadow the importance of what lies beneath. The seabed and the subsoil extending from our archipelago up the maximum extent allowed by UNCLOS hold significant potential resources that will benefit our nation and our people for generations to come,” said DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Marshall Louis Alferez.

“Today we secure our future by making a manifestation of our exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources in our ECS entitlement,” he added.

Alferez noted that the submission is not only a declaration of the Philippines’ maritime entitlements under UNCLOS but also its “commitment to the responsible application of its processes,” the DFA said. 

The DFA said Alferez noted the significance of the move “in securing the Philippines’ sovereign rights and maritime jurisdictions in the West Philippine Sea.” The DFA official cited the 2016 Arbitral Award that “confirmed the Philippines’ maritime entitlements and rejected those that exceeded geographic and substantive limits under UNCLOS,” the DFA said.

“Under Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal State such as the Philippines is entitled to establish the outer limits of its continental shelf comprising the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas extending beyond 200 nautical miles (NM) but not to exceed 350 NM from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured,” the DFA said.

The DFA, citing Alferez, said that “the Philippine submission does not prejudice discussions with relevant coastal states that may have legitimate ECS claims measured from their respective lawful baselines under UNCLOS.”

“We consider our submission as a step in discussing delimitation matters and other forms of cooperation moving forward. What is important is the Philippines puts on record the maximum extent of our entitlement,” Alferez said.

Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the UN, said that the submission “can reinvigorate efforts of States to demonstrate their readiness to pursue UNCLOS processes in the determination of maritime entitlements and promote a rules based international order.”

In 2019, former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, among the country’s foremost experts on the West Philippine Sea, suggested filing a claim for an extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea to enforce the Philippines’ 2016 victory over China in the South China Sea – one of several ways that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can fend off China’s aggression in the area.

The Philippines won its arbitral case against China in July 2016, barely two weeks into the administration of Rodrigo Duterte, whose foreign policy veered toward China. He did not make any effort to enforce the ruling and even disparaged it in the last few months of his administration, calling the historic decision nothing more than a “piece of paper” meant for the trash bin.

Over 15 years in the making

The DFA said that the latest submission was over 15 years in the making, with the National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA) taking the lead in the Extended Continental Shelf Technical Working Group (ECS-TWG) that worked on the submission. 

The ECS-TWG gathered and processed “data on geodetic and hydrographic information, and geophysical and geological information to substantiate the submission,” the DFA said.

The move marked the second submission of the Philippines on an ECS entitlement. The first was in 2009, when the Philippines made a partial submission on the Philippine Rise, then called Benham Rise, which was recognized by the CLCS on April 12, 2012.

The DFA said that in its 2009 submission, “the Philippines stated that it reserved the right to make submissions in other areas in the future.”

The 13-million hectare Philippine Rise is off the coast of Aurora province. In March, the presence of Chinese research vessels were reported in the area, which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said was a “clear intrusion into our Philippine maritime territory” and an incident that’s caused “great concern.”

The ECS-TWG, which had also worked on the Philippines’ first submission on an ECS entitlement, is an inter-agency body composed of technical, legal, diplomatic, political, and law enforcement experts from several Philippine offices and agencies,

Represented in the ECS-TWG are NAMRIA, DFA, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, National Security Council, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau, University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, UP National Institute of Geological Sciences, the former National Coast Watch Council Secretariat, Department of National Defense, Office of the Solicitor General, and the Philippine Coast Guard. – Mia M. Gonzalez/Rappler.com

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2 comments

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  1. RB

    Never give in to China. Fight for what is rightfully belonging to the Philippines.

  2. ET

    Congratulations to all involved in this process. I hope we can enforce it later on.

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