Philippines asks United Nations to extend boundary in West Philippine Sea

Michael Punongbayan, Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Philippines asks United Nations to extend boundary in West Philippine Sea
DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Marshall Louis Alferez and PH Permanent Rep. to the UN Antonio Manuel Lagdameo officially made the extended continental shelf submission at the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea on June 14, 2024 in New York.
X / DFA Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has officially submitted information to the United Nations claiming and declaring the country’s entitlement to an extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Through the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York, the information was submitted before the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to register the country’s entitlement to an ECS in the West Palawan Region.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) explained yesterday that under Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal state such as the Philippines is entitled to establish the outer limits of its continental shelf.

This comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas extending beyond 200 nautical miles but not to exceed 350 NM from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

The National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA) led the Extended Continental Shelf Technical Working Group (ECS-TWG) that worked on the submission for over 15 years.

The submission is a declaration not only of the Philippines’ maritime entitlements under UNCLOS but also of the country’s commitment to the responsible application of its processes, according to DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Marshall Louis Alferez.

He underscored the significance of the submission in securing the Philippines’ sovereign rights and maritime jurisdictions in the WPS, noting that the 2016 Award on the South China Sea Arbitration confirmed the Philippines’ maritime entitlements and rejected those that exceeded geographic and substantive limits under UNCLOS.

“The seabed and the subsoil extending from our archipelago up the maximum extent allowed by UNCLOS hold significant potential resources that will benefit our nation and our people for generations to come. Today we secure our future by making a manifestation of our exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources in our ECS entitlement,” Alferez noted.

He added that the Philippine submission does not prejudice discussions with relevant coastal states that may have legitimate ECS claims measured from their respective lawful baselines under UNCLOS.

“What is important is the Philippines puts on record the maximum extent of our entitlement,” Alferez clarified.

The DFA said this is the second time the Philippines has made a submission on an ECS entitlement. In April 2009, the Philippines made a partial submission on the Philippine Rise, which the CLCS validated in 2012, resulting in an additional 135,506 square kilometers of seabed area for the Philippines.

In that submission, the Philippines stated that it reserved the right to make submissions in other areas in the future. 

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