Manila to present old map to assert Scarborough Shoal claim
The Philippine government will submit to the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague this week an almost 300-year-old map of the Philippines showing the disputed Scarborough Shoal as part of Philippine territory, a local media has reported.
VERA Files said Philippine businessman Mel Velarde bought the map for £170,500 (US$260,000) at a Sotheby’s London auction in November 2014.
The report noted that Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde published the map in Manila in 1734, which counters the so-called nine-dash-line China has been using as proof of its claim over the South China Sea.
The old map, 112 cm long and 120 cm wide, locates Scarborough shoal, then known as “Panacot,” also called “Panatag” by Filipinos, off the shores of Luzon, then known as “Nueva Castilla.” China refers to it as Huangyan Island.
Velarde said that he was bidding through the telephone and when the bidding price came to £80,000 (US$120,000), he was wondering whether to continue to bid, but then he realized it could be used as a evidence in international arbitration.
Reports said Velarde will personally present it to President Benigno Aquino III on June 12, the anniversary of the Philippines’ independence in 1946.
In April 2012, Philippine and Chinese ships became locked in a monthlong standoff near Scarborough Shoal, and after the withdrawal of the Philippine vessels, China seized control of the disputed atoll.
In January 2013, Manila submitted the dispute for international arbitration. In February 2014, it submitted a nearly 4,000-page petition and related evidence. Beijing refused to take part in the arbitration procedure.
The Philippines expects the results of the arbitration to appear in the first half of the 2016.
Several countries, including Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam, claim part or the whole of the South China Sea.