Call It ‘West Philippine Sea’ From Now On

MANILA, Philippines --- It's official.

The Aquino government has formally named the maritime areas of the western side of the Philippine archipelago as the "West Philippine Sea" and moved to popularize the change in the geographical name here and abroad.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has issued Administrative Order No. 29 formally naming the West Philippine Sea, from the original South China Sea, in the country's map.

Under AO 29, signed last September 5, the 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.

The President directed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to inform the United Nations (UN) and other international groups about the change in the region's name. Government agencies, schools and universities are also encouraged to use the name West Philippine Sea in the new official maps.

"The Philippines exercises sovereign jurisdiction in its EEZ (exclusive economic zone) with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures; marine scientific research; protection and preservation of the marine environment; and other rights and duties provided for in UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)," the order read.

"In the exercise of sovereign jurisdiction, the Philippines has the inherent power and right to designate its maritime areas with appropriate nomenclature for purposes of the national mapping system," the order read.

The Philippines' exclusive economic zone covers a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines of the archipelago. Republic Act No. 9522 or the Baselines Law specifically defined and described the baselines of the Philippine archipelago;

The government started calling the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea as early last June at the height of a maritime conflict with China over the Scarborough Shoal. The change of region's name was supposedly aimed to strengthen the country's claim over the resources in the area.

AO 29 noted that the naming of the West Philippine Sea is "without prejudice to the determination of the maritime domain over territories which the Republic of the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction."

The President also directed the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) to produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the West Philippine Sea.

The government, through the DFA, would also deposit at the appropriate time a copy of AO 29 enclosing the official map reflecting the West Philippines Sea with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It must also notify relevant international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names about the geographical change in the map.

The President also ordered government agencies to use the name West Philippine Sea in all messages and documents "to popularize the use of such name in the general public, both domestically and internationally." They are also enjoined to use the official Philippine maps produced and published by NAMRIA in accordance with AO 29.

The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and state universities and colleges (SUCs) have also been directed to issue circulars requiring the use of said official Philippine maps in relevant subjects, researches and instructional materials, such as, among others, text books, instructional materials, and audio-visual presentations.

Populate Disputed Isles, Says Senator

Senator Gregorio Honasan said the Philippines should beat China in the race of utilizing the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea and start populating the area.

Honasan gave the suggestion after hearing from Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that China's plan to bring tourists to an island territory near Zambales would pose security problems.

The matter was earlier reported by Chinese state media that local officials in Sanya City, a tourist destination in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, intends to include the island chains of Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank) and Nansha (Spratlys) in a cruise route under a 10-year tourism development plan.

"So ako suggestion ko talaga unahan natin eh-gawing tourism area, let's populate it although ang problema yung mga pamilya, i-relocate natin ung mga penitentiaries natin doon. Unahan lang yan (My suggestion is that we get there first - transform it into a tourism area. Let's populate it although our big problem would be how to relocate families in the area)," Honasan said.

But while these are stop-gap measures, Honasan said the government should still raise the issue before the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) to raise global awareness over China's "bullying."

Chinese Ships Still In Panatag

Meanwhile, three Chinese vessels are still deployed off the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) shoal, a senior Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) official told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday.

The official, who asked not to be identified, said two Chinese Maritime Surveillance (CMS) vessels and a Fisheries Law Enforcement and Command ship were recently monitored in the area.

"They are still there as our latest aerial patrol," said the official, adding that this time, there were no fishing boats in the vicinity of the shoal.

The official likewise disclosed that local fishermen are helping authorities monitor the presence of Chinese ships in the disputed territory. (With reports from Hannah L. Torregoza and Elena L. Aben)


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea
    Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea

    The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing's criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities" in the waters. It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing's own actions which were raising regional tensions. "The Philippines' possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no …

  • Boxing hero Pacquiao is top tax-payer in Philippines: govt
    Boxing hero Pacquiao is top tax-payer in Philippines: govt

    Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who faces his biggest fight against unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather, already holds top spot as the number one taxpayer in the Philippines, government records showed Saturday. A list of top individual tax-payers for 2013, posted on the Bureau of Internal Revenue website, put the boxer-turned-congressman at number one with 163.84 million pesos ($3.72 million) in taxes paid. Internal revenue chief Kim Henares confirmed that Pacquiao topped the list but stressed …

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options