Exploiting arbitration ruling, Malaysia claims most of our Kalayaan Island Group

WHAT did former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, his Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and his solicitor general Florin Hilbay do when they brought the arbitration suit against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013?

They shot themselves in the foot. Correct that, they shot the Philippines in the foot.

Two of the major provisions of the arbitration award handed down in 2016 for that case emboldened Malaysia to claim that its continental shelf would include most of our territory called the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), which the strongman Ferdinand Marcos had created by decree in 1978.

On Dec. 12, 2019, Malaysia submitted to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UN CLCS) a claim that its continental shelf extended beyond 200 nautical miles in the northern part of the South China Sea. The northern outer limits of Malaysia’s submission, as its accompanying map and its geographical coordinates show, are even 100 to 150 kilometers north of our KIG. (Lime and red lines in figure accompanying this column.)

Malaysian expansionism: it will eat up the Kalayaan Island Group and EEZ part. Image by author using Google Earth Pro
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Yellows silent on Malaysian grab of PH territory

THE Yellows keep ranting that President Duterte hasn’t continued to quarrel with the superpower China to assert our sovereign rights in our exclusive economic zone — ignorant of, or rejecting the fact that not just China, but Vietnam and Taiwan are claiming not just rights but sovereignty over those areas our EEZ encompasses. Thus, as Duterte succinctly put it, “China is claiming it. We are claiming it.”

The hypocrisy — or ignorance, feigned or not — of former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and their resource person former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, is obvious in the fact that while they have been livid, or pretended to be livid, over China’s alleged aggressiveness in the South China Sea, they have been inexplicably quiet in their hundreds of statements — even in Carpio’s book — over the brazen grab by Malaysia of Philippine territory.

And I’m not referring to Sabah.

Two presidents — Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada — could do nothing to stop the seizure of four reefs in our sovereign territory, the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and an island in our EEZ by Malaysia, which at that time was, so to speak, in our weight class.

Malaysia’s seizure of PH territories: Celerio (Swallow) Reef in 1986, which is within our EEZ, Antonio Luna (Ardasier) Reef in April 1986, Mariveles Reef in November 1986, Pawikan (Investigator) Shoal and Gabriela Silang (Erica) Reef in April 1999. PREPARED BY AUTHOR USING NAMRIA OFFICIAL MAP
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