Senator Francis Tolentino proposed the mandatory use of the names “West Philippine Sea” or “Kanlurang Dagat ng Pilipinas” to designate the western part of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country.
Tolentino tabled Senate Bill 2266 on Wednesday, June 2, which seeks to institutionalize the use of the Western Philippine Sea (WPS) for the western part of the archipelago and to assert Philippine sovereignty over the region.
“As patriotic citizens, we must assert our sovereign rights over our EEZ with the aim of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, living or not, from the waters above the seabed and from the seabed. and the subsoil of our EEZ with the concomitant duty to protect and preserve the marine environment therein ”, he declared in his bill.
Amid the stalemate with China, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III issued an administrative order in 2012 naming the WPS area, which includes the Luzon Sea and the waters around, in and around it. of the Kalayaan and Bajo group of islands of Masinloc, also known as the Scarborough Shoal, among others.
In 2016, the Hague-based arbitral tribunal struck down China’s claims on the WPS. China, meanwhile, refuses to recognize the decision and continues its foray into the Philippine EEZ.
“This bill is intended to complement Administrative Order No. 29, 2012 series, and further strengthen the Philippines’ claim… by exercising our inherent sovereign right to designate an appropriate nomenclature for our maritime area,” Tolentino said.
Under SB 2266, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) would be mandated to produce and publish graphs and maps of the Philippines reflecting the WPS.
The government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will also communicate the official use of WPS to the United Nations and relevant international organizations, once the proposed law is enacted.
All government departments, agencies and bodies would also be urged to use WPS or Kanlurang Dagat ng Pilipinas in all public communications, messages and documents and to popularize its use among the general public, locally and internationally.
Private institutions and organizations in the Philippines will also be invited to do the same.
Previously, Tolentino had tabled a similar bill aimed at institutionalizing the use of “Philippine Rise” to refer to the Benham Rise.
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