“Atin ang West Philippine Sea!” shouts the Filipino people amid China’s territorial claim of the West Philippine Sea that jeopardizes our sovereign rights over its islands, surrounding seas and natural resources.

Photo courtesy from The Arm Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

The Dispute

Photo courtesy from The Arm Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

The contention of China and Philippines on the territorial claim of the West Philippine Sea can be traced back to the 1940s. However, an escalation on the dispute can be observed in the mid-1990s with China’s powerful and assertive claim on the Panganiban Reef.

In 2012, a standoff between the Philippines and China in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal; Bajo de Masinloc) further escalated the territorial conflict. However, in 2016, an arbitral ruling constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) overwhelmingly favors the Philippines’ claim to the West Philippine Sea.

Despite this, China adamantly denies the rightful claim of the Philippines to the territory. Strongly denying the results of the South China Sea Arbitration of 2016 deeming it null and void using their nine-dash line, which they claim to be historically accurate.

Decreased Chinese Vessels?

Amid the talks on the violent dispute that happened in the Ayungin Shoal just this June, Philippines has observed a significant decrease of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea. However, nothing much can be said about the sudden decrease of the Chinese force in the area.

Photo courtesy from The Arm Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

Rear Admiral and Navy Spokesperson Roy Vincent Trinidad remarked that the event needs further assessment and cannot be currently speculated.

In a regular briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, he further stated that, “We don’t want to speculate on the reduction. Suffice it to say, we have monitored a reduction on a week to week basis of our monitoring, for whatever reason this will be subject to further assessments,” when he was asked if the bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) between China and Philippines has affected this development in the territory.

— The dispute between the two countries on the territorial claim of the West Philippine Sea has sparked countless arguments nationwide, some supporting peace talks and a peace agreement on the territory, while some are in favor of our strong assertion of claim on the territory. How about you fellow Sugboanon? What’s your opinion on this issue? 

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