Palace: West PH Sea renaming shouldn't anger neighbors

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2012 02:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2012 06:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Malacañang said President Aquino's Administrative Order naming the West Philippine Sea should not be a cause for concern for other countries that have conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda reiterated that this development should not be a source of tension among the claimant countries, saying that the Philippines is only naming what is part of the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

He added that the country is not claiming the whole of South China Sea.

"We've been calling the EEZ as West Philippine Sea so that should not be an area that there should be friction among nations, ASEAN. We don't see it as a cause for conflict among ASEAN or our other neighbors," Lacierda told reporters.

The Palace expects that the new name will also be taught to students.

"Siyempre 'yung DepEd ituturo po 'yan. Definitely may instructions from the main office to instruct all teachers henceforth to call the EEZ as the West Philippine Sea," Lacierda said.

The Palace said the AO cannot affect the Baselines Law.

In a text message sent by Lacierda, the Office of the President said:

"1. The AO cannot affect the Baselines Law since an exec issuance cannot amend a law;

"2. The AO merely concerns a renaming of an area, which in turn reinforces our claim over Kalayaan [Group of Islands], Bajo [de Masinloc], etc.;

"3. Section 2 of the Baselines Law states that [the] Philippines has sovereignty over Kalayaan and Bajo de Masinloc under the UNCLOS, hence the AO reinforces the Philippine position and claim earlier stated under the Baselines Law."

The OP added that the Kalayaan Group of Islands "was not part of the baselines of the Philippine archipelago identified in the law but the law states our claim over those island[s] and Bajo de Masinloc under the UNCLOS (i.e., regime of islands)."

Meantime, Lacierda said the President has made no decision yet on who would replace Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady following her stroke.

He echoed the President's statement Wednesday that there has been a noticeable improvement in the country's relations with China since Brady's appointment. He pointed out that there have been less reports of comments from Beijing on the issue.