There is currently a stand – off between Philippine and Chinese vessels on the Scarborough Shoal which is located at coordinates, 15°11′N 117°46′E. Here is my two cents worth of thought on this issue.

Scarborough is about 137 NM from Zambales, a Philippine Province. According to UNCLOS, every country has a 200 NM Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). With respect to the UNCLOS, the Scarborough Shoal is a sovereign property of the Republic of the Philippines, being only 137 NM from Zambales, which is the nearest land mass. The Chinese Government lays claim on the islands saying that it was discovered by explorers from the Yuan Dynasty (which is an EXTINCT dynasty), other than those extinct documents, no other proof of ownership by the Chinese government was shown aside from a marker built there in 1980 which was removed by the Philippine Government. The Philippines on the other hand raised the Philippine flag there and built a lighthouse in 1965. They also conducted a survey in 1957.

Both China and the Philippines lay claim to this small shoal. Last Tuesday, BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF15) was dispatched from Palawan to investigate Chinese fishing vessels spotted by a surveillance plane in the area. Upon arrival, PF15, with respect to international rules of engagement, they dispatched a team to perform a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS). Upon inspection, the vessels discovered that the vessels contain giant clam, live sharks and corals. The VBSS team of PF15v was about to make an arrest when two Chinese Ships from China Marine Surveillance (CMS) blocked the way. A stand – off issued between the two countries which up to now is still unresolved. The international community is hoping for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and I myself is hoping the same. Both parties should try to solve the issue with bilateral talks and I hope that both Chinese and Philippine government will be open – minded on the issue.