Last year, Itu Aba (also known as Taiping or Ligaw), the biggest feature in the Spratly group of islands being disputed by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, figured in a controversy involving the appointment of the Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Lourdes Sereno opposed the appointment of Jardeleza to the High Court accusing him of treason when he omitted Itu Aba in the Memorial or memorandum filed before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in connection with the case filed by the Philippine questioning the legality of China’s nine-dashed line map which overreaches into the territory of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
Itu Aba is occupied by Taiwan, once part of China but now considers itself a sovereign state as Republic of China. The Philippines adopts a One-China policy which considers Taiwan a province of China.
Jardeleza was of the view that including Itu Aba in the Memorial would weaken the Philippine case because the island has a water source and can sustain human habitation and therefore entitled to maritime regimes. That would be outside the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal.
As a compromise by Jardeleza and the American lawyers handling the Philippine U.N. case, Itu Aba was included in the Memorial but it was not raised as a legal issue.
The High Court later cleared Jardeleza of the allegation of treason or disloyalty saying it was
“a legal strategy.”
Last Jan. 29, in a lecture at the Ateneo de Manila, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio touched on Itu Aba.
He said the Philippines has a strong position in asserting ownership of Itu Aba: “Palawan has an area of 1,464,900 hectares, and a 650 KM coast facing the West Philippine Sea, while Itu Aba has an area of 46 hectares and a 1.4 KM coast. The relevant coast for Palawan is about 495 KM, while the relevant coast for Itu Aba is about 1 KM, or a ratio of 1:495 in favor of Palawan.
“The critical criterion is the length of the opposing coastlines in the overlapping maritime zones. Palawan is uniquely endowed by nature with an unusually long coastline – a total of more than 650 kilometers facing the West Philippines Sea. The combined coastline of all the Spratly Islands is minuscule compared to Palawan’s coastline.
Read more: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/blogs/the-inbox/justice-carpio-explains-itu-aba-issue-in-the-ph-222531318.html