President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., speaking during his visit to Palawan Friday, said the country will continue to maintain its stance to defend its sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea. This, in the heels of Beijing’s latest reiteration of its claim over most of the South China Sea through its recent release of a new “standard map”.

Marcos made the statement in response to reporters’ queries about whether he plans to take a similar action to that of issuing Presidential Decree 1596, which was used to establish the Kalayaan municipality back in 1978 by his late father, Ferdinand Sr.

“That occurred in the 70s because we were already looking at our claims, we were already discussing this with the United Nations, where were part of a group of I think three countries that established the archipelagic principle of baselines and the exclusive economic zone,” Marcos said.

“We just have to be consistent with that. Hindi naman nagbabago, siguro yung pag-establish ng municipality sa Pag-asa was to be able to make sure and to establish that this is part of the Philippines,” he added.

The president stated that since then, the government has not changed its approach towards its claims in WPS, continuing to defend the country’s sovereignty in the region.

“It is the other countries around us that have changed their approach. So these are the things that we have to respond to but again, these are operational details that I would prefer not to talk about,” he referring to the 10-dash line map of China.

After it’s release, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement, rejecting the map issued by China’s Ministry of Natural Resources last August 28.

“The latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLUS),” the DFA said in a statement.

The DFA also noted in its statement the 2016 ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim, and called on China to “act responsibly and abide by its obligations under UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award.”

Marcos likewise said the UNCLOS puts the Philippines on a solid ground with its clamis of territorial sovereignty or maritime territory.

“I think because we have to stick to the rules-based international law especially the UNCLOS,” he said.

“And this has been validated and supported by many-many countries around the world and we should take strength on that. I believe that, that again is a very big help to the Filipinos in continuing to defend our maritime borders,” he added.

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