Puerto Princesa, Palawan — Malacañang on Wednesday, March 7, asserted that a large part of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and all the islands the Philippines is currently occupying and laying claim to lies in Palawan, with the exception of Scarborough Shoal which forms part of Zambales.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. issued this statement during a press briefing held at the Palawan Provincial Capitol here.
Roque also stressed that the Scarborough Shoal is subject to the country’s traditional fishing rights, and that the waters where China has built artificial islands form part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
As such, Roque said the President will not surrender even a single inch of Philippine territory to any foreigner saying that “he will die for the Philippine territory.” He added that the government will continue to uphold the claims of the entire nation.
Moreover, the Spokesperson reiterated the President’s position that the Ruling of the United Nations (UN) Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has finally decided that China cannot claim any of the waters of the West Philippine Sea on the basis of historic title or on the basis of the nine-dash line.
The President opines that this is “authoritative evidence” of the customary norm of international law applicable and which China cannot make claims on the basis of historic waters, Roque stressed.
He likewise acknowledged that the issue of land territory over the West Philippine Sea remains “unresolved” and “disputed.”
“The realities until today we have unresolved controversy as far as land territory is concerned. This is because the UN Tribunal for the Law of the Sea can only resolve issues involving the sea, pursuant to the Law of the Sea. The issue of land territory remains disputed. That is why we still have to refer to it as the disputed islands of the West Philippine Sea because that was not the subject of any ruling on the part of the UN Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, “ Roque underscored.
The Palace spokesperson added that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pursued for the time being negotiation and friendly relations with China to resolve these “conflicting claims” to land territory.
“On matters which are not controversial such as trade and investments will proceed full speed ahead. On matters which are controverted, including land territory, and still, disputed maritime territories under the definition in international law that there is still pending disagreements on issues on facts and law then the Philippines will proceed on the basis of bilateral relations with China,” Roque pointed out.
He stressed that the President will not sacrifice “even a single life” for an issue that can be resolved on the basis of friendly relations.
PH cruise tourism arrivals
In the same press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Roque reported an increase in the cruise tourism arrivals in January 2018 reaching to a total of 9,516 passengers, which is 1,952.82% higher than the 446 passengers recorded in January 2017.
Roque mentioned Northern Luzon as having registered more than half of the volume in view of the interest at the Port of Currimao as a cruise route while Coron, Boracay and South Harbor registered positive cruise tourist arrivals.
“We will continue to boost the country’s cruise tourism with our ongoing infrastructure projects and various port programs that aim to enhance international hubs and cruise terminals,” he noted. ### PCO-Content