Sunday, April 29, 2012

What’s in a name? Scarborough, Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc?

Should the Philippines call the shoal by its local name or should it refer to it by its international name since its dispute with China is an international controversy?

Manila has three names for it: Scarborough Shoal, Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc. Zambales fishermen call it simply as Karburo.

China has only one name for it, Huangyan Island, and uses this name even for international communication.
The shoal’s international name is Scarborough Shoal, which international news wire services and the Philippines’ major newspapers use.

Asked about it in an interview on dzRB radio yesterday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said both the government and the press used Scarborough Shoal, the “more familiar name” that appears on world maps.

She noted, however, that the shoal is also called Panatag Shoal, the name she prefers to use.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has of late been referring to the shoal as Bajo de Masinloc, which, according to Valte, is the shoal’s “legal” or “formal” name.

“You know, I’m not aware if we have a preference,” Valte said. “For us in the communication group, it’s what is most understandable,” she said.

Which is?

Valte said she would ask her superiors whether the government had a preferred name for the shoal.
But the press can decide how to call the shoal, Valte said, citing as an example the wide use in the press of West Philippine Sea as a reference to the South China Sea.

For nearly three weeks now, Chinese maritime ships are facing off with Philippine civilian vessels at Scarborough Shoal as China and the Philippines stand firm on their rival claims to the group of rock formations 124 nautical miles (220 kilometers) west of Zambales province. That is well within the Philippines’ 330-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but China ignores it, insisting on its claim to all of the South China Sea.

The Senate opened an inquiry into the standoff on Friday, and yesterday Malacañang thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for calling on the nation to rally behind President Aquino in asserting the Philippines’ sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

“We appreciate that statement from the Senate President,” Valte said.

More  Scarborough Shoal news here.

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