The Philippine government is exercising its claims on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) in accordance with international law.
This, according to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) Deputy Administrator Efren Carandang in an online press forum Wednesday.
The briefing was held in observance of Environmental Awareness Month as prescribed by Republic Act No. 9512 to promote national awareness among Filipinos on the role of natural resources in economic growth.
“In exercising sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, our government is always guided by the rule of law,” Carandang said.
The Philippines, he said, is claiming its maritime entitlements and exercises its maritime obligations based on international law.
“Even in the presence of dispute, we engage and maintain good relationships with our neighbors under the ambit of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and other avenues for regional and international cooperation,” he said.
While the political climate at times may be complex, Carandang said the Philippines is doing its best to promote “a culture of peace and cooperation within the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Region and beyond.”
He added that with the country having a large stake in the living and non-living resources of the WPS, Carandang said it is only fitting that the State develop and protect this “vital part of the national patrimony.”
“Our stakes for the living and non-living resources in the West Philippine Sea are high. The vast sea, as well as its seabed, are key to our food and energy security,” he said.
He added that the health of the marine ecosystem in the WPS must be taken care of since it affects the health and productivity of the coastal waters of the main archipelago.
Aside from its rich and diverse marine resources, Carandang said the waters of the WPS also serve as a maritime highway through which “our merchandise and the merchandise of other nations are transported and traded”, highlighting the need to further protect it. (PNA)