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MANILA – (UPDATE, 8:08 a.m.) The Philippines will formally request the official renaming of what has been traditionally known as South China Sea into West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
"The President has given an order with regard to the naming of West Philippine Sea of the Republic of the Philippines. The Department of Foreign Affairs will follow his order and will deposit at the appropriate time a copy of the administrative order with the official map reflecting the WPS with the United Nations and other international organizations," said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez.
The Philippines has taken to calling the disputed waters West Philippine Sea in response to Chinese aggression in the area.
Since last year, Chinese fishing boats—together with Chinese fisheries and maritime ships—have been monitored intruding into Philippine waters, both in the Spratlys (Kalayaan Island Group) off Palawan and the Scarborough Shoal off Zambales.
Chinese aggression in these waters has increased tension among the claimants, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The same Chinese posturing in East China Sea has also strained its relation with Japan.
Details of the order
On Sept. 5, President Aquino signed Administrative Order (AO) 29 "Naming the West Philippine Sea of the Republic of the Philippines,” which states that the Philippines has the "inherent power and right to designate its maritime areas," which include the Luzon Sea as well as the waters around, within and adjacent to the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo De Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal.
"The naming of the West Philippine Sea is without prejudice to the determination of the maritime domain over territories which the Republic of the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction," the order said.
As such, AO 29 orders the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) to "produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the West Philippine Sea."
The official map, including a copy of relevant orders, shall then be submitted before the Secretary-General of the United Nations and other organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
All government offices and instrumentalities are also enjoined to use the official maps produced and published by NAMRIA.
Specifically, the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and state universities and colleges (SUCs) have been ordered to issue circulars requiring the use of the maps in relevant subjects, researches and instructional materials, such as, among others, text books, instructional materials, and audio-visual presentations.
"The expenditures which may be incurred in the implementation of this Order shall be funded from the existing annual budget of the concerned agencies, subject to the usual accounting and auditing rules and regulations," it said.