Baja: Baselines bill weakens RP claim to Kalayaan

Posted at 02/18/2009 10:48 PM | Updated as of 02/19/2009 9:31 AM

Now that the Senate has ratified the controversial baseline bill, all it needs is President Arroyo’s signature.

Once signed, the baseline law will declare the country's territorial boundary and will be submitted to the United Nations for international recognition.

But former Ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja says the baseline bill is seriously flawed because it excludes the disputed Kalayaan islands from Philippine territory.
 
Baja says the exclusion of the Kalayaan islands, which is part of the province of Palawan, runs counter to national interest.

That's because Kalayaan is part of the Spratly Group of Islands, a disputed atoll in the South China Sea that is claimed not just by the Philippines but by China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

Baja says these countries have included the Spratlys in their own baselines, and that by excluding it from our own baseline law, the Philippines is effectively undermining our claim to Kalayaan.

But speaking last week on ANC's The Big Picture, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile warned against any aggressive move to claim the territory.

He believes that excluding the Kalayaan islands from our baseline violates the Constitution.

ABS-CBN News has learned that some lawyers are considering questioning the baseline bill before the Supreme Court. -- by RICKY CARANDANG, ABS-CBN News