Phl official sees “win-win” diplomatic solution on Scarborough issue

Phl official sees “win-win” diplomatic solution on Scarborough issue

Manila : Philippines | Apr 25, 2012 at 9:40 PM PDT
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Manila, Philippines - A Philippine Defense ministry official said Thursday he believes there is a win-win solution and a diplomatic way of settling an issue over a disputed island in the South China Sea.

Defense spokesman Peter Galvez was referring to the Panatag (Peaceful) Reef and Scarborough Shoal stand-off issue.

Galvez said this over the Talking Point Radio Show aired over DZRB Radyo ng Bayan (738 Khz) in cooperation with the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO), Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and Philippines News Agency (PNA).

“We have to find a win win, peaceful and diplomatic resolution to avoid a bloody confrontation,” Galvez said.

“It’s not just an issue on the territorial aspect. This is not a basis for an international relation between the Philippines and China but we also should look on tourism and economic aspects as well as the wholistic picture of the issue,” Galvez said.

He also appealed to everyone not to be swayed by their emotions so there won’t be any problems.

"The Philippine Government continue to discuss the issue with the Chinese government. The Philippine government is determined to find a peaceful solution to this," Galvez stressed.

He reiterated that the country exercises full sovereignty and jurisdiction over the rocks of Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag).

Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of the Philippine territory and part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Philippine Continental Shelf.

Scarborough Shoal or Scarborough Reef (Chinese name: Huangyan Island; more correctly described as a group of islands and reefs in an atoll shape than a shoal, is located between the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands) and Luzon Island in the South China Sea.

To the east, the 5,000 - 6,000 meter deep Manila Trench separates the shoal from Philippine Archipelago.

As with most of the landforms in this sea, the sovereignty of the area is disputed. After the Chinese Civil War, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) both lay claim to the shoal. Starting in 1997, Philippines joined in this dispute, making its claim to the shoal.

The shoal was named after a tea-trade ship Scarborough which was wrecked on the rock with everyone perishing on board in the late 18th century.

The shoal forms a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and islands (but mostly rocks) 55 kilometers (34 miles) around with an area 150 square kilometers. It has a lagoon with area of 130 km² and depth of about 15 metres (49 ft).

The shoal is a protrusion from a 3,500 m deep abyssal plain. Several of the islands including "South Rock" are 1/2 m to 3 m high and many of the reefs are just below water at high tide. Near the mouth of the lagoon are the ruins of an iron tower, 8.3 m high.

It is about 123 miles (198 km) west of Subic Bay. The nearest landmass is Palauig, Zambales, on Luzon Island in the Philippines, 137 miles (220 km) away.

Activities in the surrounding area

The shoal and its surrounding area are rich fishing grounds. A significant number of Chinese fishermen have been arrested by Philippine officials in this area, particularly during 1998-2001.

Most arrests were for alleged using illegal methods of fishing and catching endangered and protected species.

There are thick layers of guano lying on the rocks in the area. Several Filipino-sponsored and Chinese-sponsored diving excursions and amateur ham radio operations, DXpeditions (1994, 1995, 1997 and 2007), have been carried out in the area.

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Disputed islands in the South China Sea
Disputed islands in the South China Sea
joelcatencio is based in Diliman, Central Luzon, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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