PH must ‘act fast’ on islands in West PH Sea – Duterte

Manila Bulletin

Published April 17, 2017, 12:09 AM

By Genalyn D. Kabiling

Doha, Qatar — The Philippines must “act fast” in occupying its islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) before it loses them to other claimants, President Duterte said last Saturday in his talk at a Philippine-Qatar business forum here.

“With the movement of people there occupying the lands, I ordered my military to occupy the remaining 10 islands which are not inhabited, place our flag there, put some structures,” Duterte said in his remarks.

“I claim these islands as property of the Philippines. It’s because everybody is grabbing every land there in the South China Sea so if we do not act fast, we will end up with nothing,” he added.

The West Philippine Sea, as declared in an exective order issued by then President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012, includes that part of the South China Sea covered by the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone 300 miles from Philippine land. It includes Kalayaan islands west of Palawan as well as Scarborough Shoal west of Zambales.

The President had earlier ordered government troops to occupy and fortify the islands in the Kalayaan group of islands. After China expressed concern over the move, Duterte assured that no weapon system will be installed on the islands. “We are just there to claim the islands for us because that is really ours,” he said.

The President, meantime, warned other nations against intruding into Benham Rise east of Luzon. The United Nations in 2008 approved the Philippines’ claim that it has sovereign rights to Benham Rise as part of its continental shelf.

President Duterte said he is renaming Benham Rise to “Philippine Ridge.”

The undersea plateau was named after American geologist Andrew Benham who surveyed the area in 1933.

Benham Rise recently figured in the news when Philippine officials said Chinese ships were spotted by sattellte crisscrossing the area from July to December last year. China, however, has assured Duterte that it would not claim Benham Rise.

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This entry was posted in Biển Đông (SCS), Philippines, Spratlys and tagged , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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