Pres. Arroyo signed baselines bill

Thursday, March 12, 2009

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed into law Republic Act 9522 or the baselines bill, which will define the country's territorial waters, Malacañang said.

Arroyo signed on Tuesday the measure, which treats the disputed Spratlys Islands and Scarborough Shoal, as a "regime of islands" under the Republic of the Philippines, despite the strong protest lodged by China, one of several claimants, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Wednesday.

Beijing said the provision on the “regime of islands” violated its sovereignty.

Ermita said with the signing of the baselines bill, "We are sending the message to the whole world that we are affirming our national sovereignty. We are affirming our national interest."

Ermita said Manila was asserting its sovereignty "because it was the right thing to do."

"Whatever problems we may have, whatever action will have to be contested, will have to be done with the code of conduct agreed upon with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and China," he added.

Ermita was referring to the code of conduct signed by claimant countries to the Spratlys – the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei.

Taiwan is also claiming the Spratlys, but was not a signatory to the code.

Ermita said the baselines law enabled the country to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


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