MANILA, Philippines – In a move to reiterate its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the disputed body of water known as the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines rejected yesterday a new Chinese law which enables its military to stop incursions into said waters, over which China has also laid claim as the China Sea.
Charles Jose, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman, said the Philippines will fully assess this action taken by China at the soonest possible time.
“We are still studying the new law and its possible implications,” he said.
Meanwhile, Security and defense analyst Rommel Banlaoi noted that China is expediting the reclamation of occupied reefs in order to strengthen its claim over the West Philippine Sea.
“China is rushing to have total control over these areas for the much-needed semblance of ownership before the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is finally passed,” he said.
He added that China seeks to have full control of the territory even prior to the passage of the Code of Conduct, which is being pushed by countries staking claim to the area, as well as by other nations, such as the US.
Banlaoi expounded that should China get full control over these reefs, it will have the power to insist on its right to stay in the territory; an action that it can take before the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS.) Should they be able to make such a claim, China can then invoke a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and challenge the claims of other countries.
The US is backing the Philippines and Vietnamin their bid for the early passage of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, with the hopes that this will dissuade China from advancing its comprehensive claims to the region, Banlaoi added.
As these developments take place, the military has stepped-up its monitoring of the West Philippine Sea territory, both by air and water, as a result of China’s recent reclamation activities at Calderon (Cuarteron), Gaven and Mabini (South Johnson) reefs.