MANILA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua)-- After the Philippine government formally named the western maritime area in the country, which is part of the South China Sea, as the "West Philippine Sea," the Philippines drew some flak, including those from local analysts.
According to the Administrative Order (AO) 29 signed by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Sept. 5, the West Philippine Sea includes the Luzon Sea as well as the waters around, within and adjacent to Nansha Islands, called "Kalayaan" by the Philippines, and Huangyan Island or "Bajo De Masinloc" used by the Philippines.
Aquino has ordered the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) to produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the "West Philippine Sea" in accordance with the AO.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been instructed to furnish a copy of the order and official map to the secretary general of the United Nations and to notify other international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
But according to political analyst Alex Magno, he has a problem with AO 29.
In his column in one of Manila's leading dailies, Magno said that in his columns, he used South China Sea to refer to the general area where"we have problematic territorial issues" with China and other countries. "Now, I suppose, as an obedient citizen, I must use West Philippine Sea. That would confuse foreign readers. Better that than be condemned a traitor," Magno said.
Under AO 29, the West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea that is within the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) "That means South China Sea is not abolished from our nomenclature, referring to the rest of the body of water beyond our EEZ-- unless Vietnam decides to call the other half as the Vietnam Sea," Magno said.
Magno, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines, said that what is called West Philippine Sea is actually only half of the South China Sea."In which case, should not the technically correct official designation be the West Philippine Half-Sea?"he asked sarcastically.
Magno said that while President Aquino can compel the local map- making agency to refer to the area as the West Philippine Sea, he cannot compel other map-makers around the world to do the same, adding that this could probably need a UN General Assembly resolution.
Columnist of The Philippine Star Carmen Pedrosa said in a recent article that issuing the AO is a provocation and can only add to the animosity between our two countries.
The move does not strengthen the Philippine claim. It puts us back to square one, solving nothing but adding fuel to the conflict, she added.
Local newspaper Tribune said in an editorial on Sept. 15 that the order was a move toward escalation of the conflict and Noynoy (referring to President Aquino) appears to have taken that road which undoubtedly would be responded to in kind by China.
Noynoy has thus placed the Philippines in an irreversible path toward alienation from the region and, consequently, deep reliance on the United States.
Earlier, it was reported by the DFA that Singapore supported the Philippine move to rename parts of South China Sea into West Philippine Sea.
A news item carried by two major daily newspapers in Manila quoted Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as having thanked Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong "for the very strong support that Singapore has given the Philippines in terms of its position in the West Philippine Sea."
The support to the Philippine move by Singapore was supposedly given by Lee to President Aquino when the two met at the Vladivostok summit meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation last Sept. 9.
But Singapore has denied that there was such a support. "We have seen the reports in question,"said the spokesperson of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs."You all know how free the Filipino media is; they can even be very free with the facts."
The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has clarified that it remains neutral regarding South China Sea territorial disputes.
"There has been no change to Singapore's position. We do not take sides on the merits or otherwise of the various specific disputes in the South China Sea,"said the Ministry in its website.
China's Taiwan has also categorically said that it does not recognize a unilateral move by the Philippines to rename the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.
Taiwan's view was carried by Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA).
China has said that it is committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the South China Sea and is willing to negotiate with the other claimant-countries through bilateral negotiations but without the intervention of other foreign powers.
Renaming area in South China Sea will not be accepted by int'l community: FM
BEIJING, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government's move to rename a portion of the South China Sea has violated the international standardization of geographic names and will not be accepted by the international community, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday.
The name "South China Sea" has long been acknowledged by the international community, and the Philippines has also accepted and used this name in the past, Hong said at a regular news briefing. Full story
[Photo] South China Sea Fleet conducts joint training