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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Kalayaan Islands Should Not Be Treated as Just ‘Regime of Islands’
Kalayaan Islands Should Not Be Treated as Just ‘Regime of Islands’ PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Friday, 15 August 2008 00:00

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today maintained that the Kalayaan Islands and the Scarborough Shoal should be considered part of Philippine territory instead of being treated as a mere regime of islands over which the country is claiming ownership.

 

Senator Pimentel said the Philippines should assert ownership of Kalayaan Islands and Scarborough Shoal by virtue of historic and legal rights and the fact that it effectively occupies these clusters of islands.

 

“In my view, it is within our right and to our advantage to treat these islands as part and parcel of the territory of the republic. Otherwise, our claim to these islands may be undermined,” the minority leader said.

 

Aside from Mr. Pimentel, other members of the Philippine Senate filed separate bills to draw up the country’s archipelagic baselines. The separate bills were filed by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Edgardo Angara, Rodolfo Biazon and Antonio Trillanes.

Senator Pimentel said he does not buy the argument of the Palace that since there are other countries claiming the Spratly Islands (of which the Kalayaan Islands are a part), it would be prudent to classify the Kalayaan group as just a regime of islands.

 

“It is true that neighboring countries like China, Vietnam and Taiwan are claiming that the Spratly IslandsPhilippines to formally claim the Kalayaan Islands since they have been under our effective occupancy and control,” he said. belong to them and their military forces are occupying some of these islands. But my position is for the

 

Senator Pimentel said he is glad that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Relations, has shelved her proposal to create a Congressional Commission on National Territory after realizing that it would only delay the process for enacting a legislation to delineate the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines and imperil the efforts to meet the May 13, 2009, deadline of the United Nations.

 

He said that the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei are racing against each other to claim ownership of the Spratly Islands because of the belief that vast deposits of oil, gas and other minerals are found underneath the seas around these islands.

 

“And based on the UNCLOS, whichever countries will be declared and recognized as owners of these islands shall also have the right to develop and utilize the mineral and marine resources that are found beneath the seas around the islands,” he said.

 

By asserting our claim to Kalayaan Islands, we are not going to war against China. If we are wrong, let the UN authorities tasked with implementing the UNCLOS tell us where we are wrong. And if we are wrong, we can adjust our claim accordingly,” Senator Pimentel says.

Under the UNCLOS, the Philippine can claim wider maritime areas to include territorial seas of 12 nautical miles, contiguous zone of additional 12 miles, exclusive economic zone of 200 miles and extended continental shelf of up to 350 miles.

 

Senator Pimentel said the Arroyo government is reluctant to put the Kalayaan Islands as part of the Philippine archipelagic map for fear of offending China and of provoking reprisals from this country.

 

He argued that if China and other countries disagree with the move of the Philippines to extend its territorial boundaries by classifying the Kalayaan Islands as part of its maritime areas, there are procedures in international law and processes of the United Nations for settling the territorial dispute to avoid the use of force.

 

“By asserting our claim to Kalayaan Islands, we are not going to war against China. If we are wrong, let the UN authorities tasked with implementing the UNCLOS tell us where we are wrong. And if we are wrong, we can adjust our claim accordingly,” he said.

 

The minority leader said that to treat the Kalayaan Islands and Scarborough Shoal as mere regime of islands is a retrogressive and ridiculous course of action because these islands have been officially declared and recognized as part and parcel of the national territory under the country’s laws.

 

He pointed out that Kalayaan Islands are classified as a municipality of Palawan effective 1978 while the Scarborough Shoal is part of the Zambales province. # # #



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Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2008 00:23
 

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