Require use of 'West PH Sea' in maps, gov't communications – Tolentino

Published June 3, 2021, 11:45 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Francis Tolentino proposed the mandatory use of the names “West Philippine Sea” or “Kanlurang Dagat ng Pilipinas” to refer to the western part of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

TIGHT WATCH – Crew members of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel BRP Cabra monitor the departure of seven Chinese militia vessels from the Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on April 27, 2021. (Philippine Coast Guard)

Tolentino filed on Wednesday, June 2, Senate Bill No. 2266 which seeks to institutionalize the use of West Philippine Sea (WPS) for the western side of the archipelago and assert the Philippine’s sovereignty over the area.

“As patriotic citizens, we should assert our sovereign rights over our EEZ for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and subsoil of our EEZ with the concomitant duty to protect and preserve the marine environment therein,” he said in his bill.

Amid the stand-off with China, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III issued in 2012 an administrative order naming the area WPS, which includes the Luzon Sea and the waters around, within, and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, among others.

In 2016, the Hague-based arbitral tribunal invalidated China’s claims over the WPS. China, on the other hand, refuses to recognize the ruling and continues its incursion in the Philippines’ EEZ.

“This bill seeks to complement Administrative Order No. 29, Series of 2012, and to further reinforce the Philippine’s claim…by exercising our inherent sovereign right to designate an appropriate nomenclature to our maritime area,” Tolentino said.

Under the SB No. 2266, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) would be mandated to produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the WPS.

The government, thru the Department of Foreign Affairs, shall also communicate to the United Nations and relevant international organizations the official use of the WPS, once the proposed law is enacted.

All department, agencies and instrumentalities in government would also be directed to use WPS or Kanlurang Dagat ng Pilipinas in all communications, messsages and public documents and popularize its use with the general public, locally and internationally.

Private institutions and organizations in the Philippines shall likewise be directed to do the same.

Earlier, Tolentino filed a similar bill seeking to institutionalize the use of “Philippine Rise” to refer to the Benham Rise.