THE Philippines will not give up any of the islets and shoals within its territorial waters being contested by China because Beijing’s nine-dash line map is “inconsistent with international law” and therefore “unacceptable,” Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said China’s claims over the islands in the Spratlys using its nine-dash line as reference “is not consistent” with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“It’s a derogation . . . The nine-dash line is something we cannot accept. It’s as simple as that. That’s why we filed a case, an arbitration case, before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea [Itlos],” he said.
He made the remark after China claimed that Chinese Coast Guard personnel prevented Philippine ships from delivering supplies to Filipino troops stationed at the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal because they were on Chinese territory.
Chinese government officials confirmed the incident and claimed that the Philippines was attempting to conduct construction on the reef, in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea [West Philippine Sea].
But Lacierda belied Beijing’s assertion, saying that Philippine troops will not take orders from any Chinese official and stay away from its territories.
“If you do that, that will be an admission of their nine-dash line concept. We believe in the [principle that]what is ours is ours, and so we will continue to push that, and we’re doing that diplomatically,” he told reporters.
Lacierda said the same principle holds true for the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal where Chinese Coast Guard personnel fired water cannons on Filipino fishermen.
“Scarborough Shoal is so near to us and so far from China. How can you say that it is theirs? That’s as simple as that. And on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it should be ours,” he pointed out.
“Is their nine-dash line consistent with UNCLOS? We’re saying it’s not. So the long and short of our claim is that the nine-dash line does not, is not consistent with international law, is not consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Lacierda added.
Therefore, he said local fishermen and naval personnel are free to travel anywhere within the country’s waters, “not only Scarborough.”
However, the Palace official said they are determined to “de-escalate tensions” by resorting to diplomatic means. He said arbitration remains the most effective method in resolving such disputes.
“I think that’s a standard diplomatic protocol when an incident such as what happened the other day occurred that we don’t revert to, or rather, we would resort to the diplomatic processes and one of this is a note verbale to the embassy concerned,” Lacierda explained.
He noted that the shoal incidents indicate “the importance of the arbitration proceedings before the ITLOS where we really need to come up with a ruling as we filed.”
“Since we have resorted to the diplomatic processes, the arbitration proceeding is one such avenue where we can settle the questioned nine-dash line of the Chinese government,” Lacierda said.