Maritime law expert defines West PHL Sea, South China Sea


The terms West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the South China Sea (SCS) are not interchangeable, Professor Jay Batongbacal reiterated during a forum on Thursday.

“The West Philippine Sea is not synonymous with the South China Sea. You do not interchange the two,” said Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

He cited Administrative Order No. 29 Section 1 s.2012 which defines the WPS as the maritime areas on the western side of the Philippine archipelago.

The WPS covers the “Luzon Sea as well as the waters around, within and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo De Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal.”

“It is not the entire South China Sea. So literally, what the West Philippine Sea refers to is the exclusive economic zone in that part,” Batongbacal said.

On the other hand, he said that the SCS geographically extends to the following areas:

The Philippines and China are both claimants to some parts of the SCS.

The Recto Bank incident last month sparked discussions on the Philippines’ claim over its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance on allowing the Chinese fishermen to fish in the country’s EEZ was unconstitutional, according to his critics who pointed out that the marine resources from that area should be exclusively reserved for Filipinos.

On Thursday, the Palace defended the President’s remark and said that it was an assertion of sovereign rights.

“Tama naman siya doon, kasi if you claim to be the owner and if you feel that you are the owner, it is the owner who gives the right to someone who seek your permission to fish,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said. — BAP, GMA News