MANILA -- The country's claims on the Spratly islands and West Philippine Sea are on solid ground.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made this statement after the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that the Spratlys are part of its territory, citing historical and legal basis.
"Despite the pronouncement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, we stand on solid grounds on our claims in the Spratlys and the West Philippine Sea. There is the 1981 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on The Law of the Sea) of which China is a signatory, that gave the Philippines an EEZ (exclusive economic zone) of 200 nautical miles," he said in a message to reporters Sunday.
Another factor cementing Philippines claims on the said territories is the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in July 12, 2016 which invalidated Chinese historical claims, Lorenzana pointed out.
"There is the PCA ruling of July (12) 2016 which invalidated the Chinese historical claims. In short, the Chinese have nothing working for them except their imagined historical claim," the DND chief stressed.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Philippine government remains committed on its claim on disputed territories and exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
"We remain steadfast in maintaining our claims with respect to our territory and exclusive economic zones pursuant not only to the said arbitral judgment based on accepted principles of public international law but consistent with the directives of our Constitution and the aspirations of the Filipino people," he said.
Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said China should avoid performing acts that would place Filipino fishermen's fishing in the disputed areas at risk.
He warned that this could "cause irritants that will disrupt the current friendly relations of the two countries, as well as imperil future bilateral negotiations on matters of mutual concern."
"It is our principled stand that the peace in the West Philippine Sea should be maintained," Panelo said. (PNA)