DFA to verify new Chinese maps

By Jing Castaneda, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2013 03:57 PM | Updated as of Jan 15 2013 02:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has asked its Embassy in Beijjing to verify reports that China will be publishing new maps that include the disputed territories in the West Philippine sea.

"We sent communication to Beijing on Sunday to verify reports on the new map of China ... We are getting verification as to the extent of its coverage on the West Philippine Sea before  we make any further comment," DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

Hernandez said they will only plan their course of action after receiving feedback from the embassy. 

The new maps will reportedly not be available to the public until the end of January. 

But if the  maps violate the sovereignty of the Philippines by including its territories in the new map, the Philippine government will file a protest.

The new maps reportedly include more than 130 islands and islets in the West Philippine Sea, including the islands and waters that other countries such as Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also claim as part of their territory.

The Philippine government has filed 15 protests on the different intrusions of China on the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea but China has consistently disregarded them, Hernandez said.

Last year, new passports were issued by China which feature a map with numerous contested areas labeled as Chinese.

Hernandez said Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida -- in his visit last week --- reaffirmed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario the Japanese government's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the dispute among all countries involved,  based on international law. 

Hernandez also refused to comment on reports that the Philippine govt has been preparing its own map which renames the South China Sea area as West Philippine Sea as it is the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) who is the one in charge. 

He said, regardless of which country prepares which map, what is important is the reaction of the international community to such maps if they are accepted and recognized or not.