New PH map for release to include contested island in West PH Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is set to release a new version of its map clearly defining its maritime boundaries and will include as part of its territory the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal; one of the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF) will be working on the updated version of the map which will be released before the end of the year.

Apart from including the Panatag Shoal, the KWF will also identify the contested islands by their old names during the Spanish era.

Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal is also referred to by native Filipinos as the Bajo de Masinloc.

KWF chairman Virgilio Almario said that by identifying these islands by their native names would enable the Filipinos to provide them proper references, as well as stress the sovereignty of the Philippines over these features.

“If I would be able to do it my way, I would look for the original name of some of these islands so that we would be using their real names,” Almario said.

”For instance, the Scarborough Shoal, who would believe that it is owned by the Philippines. They have native names so we should do research,” he added.

Last month, Google Map drew flak from Filipino social media users after it made Chinese reference to Scarborough Shoal, located off the coast off Zambales and is well within the Philippine 200-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The web mapping service was forced to revert the reference back to a neutral name after an online petition was launched at calling for a stop to calling Scarborough Shoal as part of Zhongsha Island chain.

Almario also noted that China has been using Chinese names for these islands in an attempt ot emphasize their claim.

Last year, the Chinese government released a new map highlighting its maritime boundary with its self-imposed and highly-debatable nine-dashed line; stretching down to the coasts of the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia and virtually encroaching into their sovereign territory.

The Philippines and China is currently locked in a bitter territorial disputes over a group of islands in the West Philippine Sea; a majority of which are now occupied and undergoing massive reclamation activities by Chinese troops.