Why Aquino calls disputed areas ‘rocks,’ not islands


MANILA – President Benigno Aquino summarized the Philippines’ case against China when he called some of the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea as mere “rocks” and not islands.

Aquino, during his press briefing at the Palace on Monday with his US counterpart, Barack Obama, described the disputed areas as a “few rocks that are not even inhabitable.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) 4,000 page “memorial” filed before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is all about the Philippines’ desire for the disputed areas to be officially classified by the international panel as rocks, rather than islands, according to Keith Johnson of Foreign Policy magazine.

“On such arcane definitions can hang the fate of nations — or in this case, the extension of economic rights of states to the seas and seabed off their coasts,” he said.

“Simply put, islands are land, which entitle their owners to enjoy exclusive economic rights for 200 nautical miles in all directions, including rights to fishing and energy extraction. Rocks aren’t, and don’t,” Johnson said.


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