MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has decided to call a disputed area in the South China Sea as “West Philippine Sea” as tensions rise over alleged Chinese intrusions in the area.
In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said this is only based on the Philippine perspective, noting that Vietnam is also now calling it “East Sea”.
Tensions have emerged following sightings of Chinese vessels in the area. The country has already conveyed its complaint before an international audience.
In Vietnam, some residents took to the streets to complain of China’s alleged bullying tactics.
Lacierda said there is no formal directive on the change of names, but Malacañang is only taking its cue from the departments of Foreign Affairs and Defense. Even weather forecaster PAGASA is already using “West Philippine Sea”.
Militants earlier said a change in the name would indicate the country’s sovereignty over the area.
“The Philippines government must assert its authority over Philippine territories. By renaming the South China Sea to Western Philippine Sea, we are taking a proactive move that strengthens our claim to these controversial waters and the natural resources found within," Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello had said.
He said “South China Sea” is a misnomer and gives undue advantage to China.
“China has been bullying its way to establish dominance over marine resources that are clearly within Philippine territory. It has been using the same tactics in pursuing its claim to the Spratlys group of islands,” Bello added. - from a report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News