The National Security Council on Friday said the country’s move to install navigational buoys in the West Philippine Sea is an action asserting its sovereignty that is justified under international law.
In a statement, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said is it imperative that the Philippines, as a maritime nation, should prioritize the maintenance of navigational safety “to ensure the protection of its waters and the people who rely on them.”
“The act of placing navigational buoys in the West Philippine Sea is an act of a sovereign nation and is under the country’s obligations under international law,” Año stressed as he defended the decision of the Philippine Coast Guard to place markers in the WPS.
Año said the consequences of neglecting navigational safety can be catastrophic, leading to accidents, loss of life and damage to the environment.
“We wish to stress that safe and efficient navigation is critical to international trade and commerce, and any disruption to this can have far-reaching consequences,” he explained, noting that the country’s maritime borders are vulnerable to threats such as piracy, smuggling and terrorism.
China deployed three research ships around the Spratly Islands following the PCG’s installation of buoys in WPS. Vietnam, on the other hand, said the separate actions of China and the Philippines were violating sovereign rights.
The Philippines, China and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. China is claiming almost the entire region as its territory, including waters situated within the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines and other claimant countries.
Safeguarding Phl EEZ
Año pointed out that the PCG has been installing navigational buoys in the WPS since last year, with five buoys floating in the vicinity waters of Lawak, Likas, Parola and Pag-asa for over a year now.
“As a responsible coastal state, we are fulfilling our commitment under international law to install and maintain these aids to navigation that assist vessels in safe passage in our waters,” the NSA said.
Last week, four PCG ships and one Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessel installed five cardinal mark buoys in the Philippines’ EEZ.
Año said these “cardinal buoys” will indicate the direction of safe waters to prevent passing ships from running aground in these shallow areas.
“Moreover, the installation of buoys with the Philippine flag further signifies the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our EEZ. This act of marking the boundaries with our national flag signals our unwavering resolve to safeguard our maritime entitlements and resources,” he added.
Furthermore, said Año, the move underscores the Philippines’ adherence to international statutes, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which acknowledges coastal states’ entitlement to manage their EEZs.
The installation of the buoys reinforces the Philippines’ commitment to promoting peace, stability, cooperation and the rule of law in the region, he added.
“It is not done with brute force but with deliberative action buttressed by international and domestic laws. After all, installing and maintaining navigational aids benefits not only our vessels but also those of neighboring countries — promoting safe and efficient maritime trade and commerce for the benefit of all.”
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