Unfazed by international protests over the country’s new baselines law, Malacañang said on Sunday the United Nations (UN) will be the final arbiter of the dispute over the islands in the South China Sea.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the United Nations could determine if the Philippines violated any law on its measurement of territorial baselines amid the conflicting claims by five other Asian neighbors.
Remonde said the Philippine government had expected the protests from China and Vietnam on the newly signed Philippines Baselines Act, but asserted the legislation was a legal basis for the protection of the country’s interests in the disputed islands.
He said Republic Act No. 9522 or the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law was crafted in accordance with United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations code of conduct over the South China Sea.
“We passed the baselines bill into law as part of our obligation under the Constitution to uphold and protect the sovereignty of our country,” he said over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“Second, this law is in consonance with UNCLOS which gave us a deadline to pass a baselines bill. It should be the UN that should be the final arbiter of this issue,” he said.
Remonde said there was nothing to worry about the protests lodged by China and Vietnam against the country’s passage of the baselines law. He said Manila would make a similar protest if China and Vietnam, or other claimant country also passed a similar baselines law.
“We should not worry. This is normal, natural part of international diplomacy,” he said. He noted that the President even had a cordial meeting with the new Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines.
Last Tuesday, President Arroyo signed into law RA 9522 that reaffirms the country’s claim over the more than 7,100 islands in its archipelago, including outlying territories in the disputed Spratlys.
The law states that Kalayaan Group of Island and Scarborough Shoal are “regime of islands” under the “Republic of the Philippines.”