Tolentino jokes about renaming WPS to ‘Greater West Philippine Sea’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino on Thursday joked about renaming West Philippine Sea (WPS) to counter China’s 10-dash line claim.
During the first hearing of Senate special panel on maritime and admiralty zones, Tolentino asked if Congress can change the name of WPS to Greater West Philippine Sea.
One of the resource persons, Attorney Neil Simon Silva of the University of the Philippines – Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said this may result in a complication in foreign affairs.
“It is within the jurisdiction of the Congress,” Silva replied.
“However, if it is a Greater West Philippine Sea encompassing the entire South China Sea, it may have diplomatic ramifications and for that, I defer to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on whether that would be diplomatically advisable,” said Silva.
DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega, on the other hand, said they are not going to say that it cannot be done.
He, however, said the new term might not be recognized internationally.
“For example, [the term] West Philippine Sea does not appear in foreign maps. But we can say it’s [the] Greater West Philippine Sea,” explained de Vega.
The DFA official then reiterated that as long as it doesn’t say that the entire sea is Philippine territory, then, “it sounds good.”
Tolentino, responding to de Vega, said in jest, “Ito ba ang sagot natin sa 10-dash line [ng China]?”
(Is this our answer to China’s 10-dash line?)
In an ambush interview following the hearing, Tolentino clarified he was only joking when he asked about the possibility of renaming WPS.
“I am just playing with words… DFA. Don’t take that seriously,” the lawmaker quipped.