Malacañang believes PHL has advantage in WPS dispute

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Philippines is at the advantage, amid report that other claimants have overtaken Philippines in developing outposts in West Philippine Sea, because the country is in control of “7 real islands” in West Philippine Sea.

This is in addition to the fact that features of West Philippine Sea being claimed by Philippines are well inside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines.

“The advantage of the Philippines is that we’re the only claimant with 7 real islands in our possession,” Roque during the May 8 press conference in Malacañang.

“These are not just high watermarks. These are not artificial islands. Outside of Taiwan that claims of course the biggest island, Itu Aba. But ours are real islands,” he added.

“This is the distinction under UNCLOS between lands which are permanently above water and lands that are only visible during low tide – and then they disappear during high tide,” he explained.

He noted that an artificial island cannot give a country sovereignty.

“So even if they (other claimants) build the mightiest island, the mightiest military base, it will never be the subject of sovereignty. Why? Because it’s an artificial island, it is only covered by sovereign rights,” he said.

“Tayo we are the only claimant, 7 iyan real islands that can be the subject of sovereignty. So if your question is: they have overtaken us in asserting their rights and sovereignty? I dispute that because from the nature of the islands that we occupy, we are the only one of all the claimants except for Taiwan that occupies Itu Aba, that can claim sovereignty over the islands that we hold,” he said when asked to comment on report that other claimants have overtook Philippines in developing outposts in Spratly Islands.