Expert says PH gov't should know who owns Scarborough Shoal


Posted at Mar 21 2017 09:46 PM


MANILA - A maritime law expert on Tuesday said Philippine government officials should not doubt who owns Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal), a traditional fishing ground off Zambales in Luzon. 

Speaking on ANC's Beyond Politics, Atty. Jay Batongbacal, director of the U.P. Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said the Philippine government should not say it does not know who owns the shoal which is part of Philippine territory. 

"The other thing that has been troubling has been statements of other government officials, saying, for example, that they do not know who owns Scarborough Shoal. That should not be the position stated by our own government officials," he said.

"We have a law and we have even compiled all the documents here in a book that we produced which shows indubitably absolute sovereignty over that area, not merely jurisdiction or entitlement, but absolute sovereignty," Batongbacal explained.

Republic Act 9522 or the Philippine Baselines Law clearly states the limits of the country's maritime jurisdiction. The law was signed in March 10, 2009.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told reporters Tuesday that the Philippines would file a complaint against Beijing's plan to install a radar station on Scarborough Shoal.

"The case which will be filed is fairly strong I think," he said.

The Philippines would take necessary action to defend and protect the country's sovereignty and entitlements in the disputed maritime borders, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement. 

"President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly asserted that the Philippines is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area," he said.

The mayor in charge of administration of disputed South China Sea islands and reefs China controls last week said preparatory work was being planned this year to build monitoring stations on a number of islands.

Duterte was asked on Sunday for his response to the report of a radar station to be built at the Scarborough Shoal and said: "We cannot stop China."- with Reuters