PHL to publish new map showing WPS, Benham Rise–NSC


HAVE you noticed that the Philippine maps sold in bookstores or published in government websites do not indicate the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise?

Well, the National Security Council said they will soon remedy that.

NSC spokesman and Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya said the National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (Namria) will soon publish an updated map that will consolidate the sea or ocean areas where the Philippines have maritime entitlements as well as all land territories.

“We will soon update our maps to show our EEZs and continental shelf including the West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise [Philippine Rise],” Malaya said.

Namria’s current version of the administrative map of the Philippines includes the Kalayaan Island Group, Scarborough Shoal, Macclesfield Bank. West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise Region. It also shows Sabah, which the Philippines claims but is not actively pursuing against Asean neighbor Malaysia.

Namria’s current map has a qualifying note on the upper corner saying, “This map does not depict the full extent of the maritime domains of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The Philippines calls the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) west of the archipelago “West Philippine Sea.” Beyond the 200 nautical miles, it is still officially referred to as “South China Sea.”

This is the first time the Philippine government will publish an updated map showing the country’s maritime entitlements, seven years after the United Nations-backed Arbitration Tribunal ruled some rock features in the Spratlys form part of the EEZs.

The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf earlier also approved the Philippines’s application to extend its continental shelf limit beyond 200 nautical miles from the base shorelines east of the Luzon island. The 13-million hectare continental shelf, called Benham Rise by mariners, was renamed Philippine Rise.

Recently, China published its own map showing 10 dashes that form a U-shape in the South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and India protested the map.

Malaya said Namria updated the map, but they will have to undergo many layers of approval process to ensure that it is consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Arbitral Award.

“We are just finalizing it. We will announce it when it’s out,” Malaya said.