Philippines fortifies sea claim with 300-year-old map
By Louie U. Navarro, CNN Philippines
Updated 06:20 AM PHT Tue, June 9, 2015
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – The Philippines is set to submit to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in The Hague this week an almost 300-year-old map showing Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal as part of Philippine territory for three centuries now.
Known as the Murillo Velarde map, the centuries-old document originally called “Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Islas Filipinas” was first published in 1734 in Manila by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde, a Jesuit priest.
A certified true copy of the map, described as the “Mother of all Philippine maps” and the “Holy Grail of Philippine cartography,” will be presented to President Benigno Aquino III on June 12, which coincides with the Philippines’ celebration of Independence Day, by Filipino businessman Mel Velarde, who bought the map at a Sotheby’s auction for P12 million.
According to Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, the map will help strengthen the country’s arbitration case as it debunks the so-called nine-dash-line China has been using as proof of its claim.
PH, China still friends
Lacierda, meanwhile, assured on Monday (June 8) that the Philippines and China remain friends amid the increasing tensions in disputed parts of the Spratly Islands.
He said the Philippines has no conflict with China as the two countries’ relationship is not solely dependent on the territorial dispute and that one should look beyond the West Philippine Sea issue in viewing their relations.
Aquino, in fact, is set to attend the anniversary of the Philippines-China Diplomatic Relations and the 14th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day on Monday night – proof that the country continues to establish good relations with the Asian giant.
“If you are going to limit yourself only to the South China [Sea] issue, certainly, it will color your perspective. But if you look at it from a broader perspective where we have established good relations with China and we are friends – the Chinese people are here, Filipinos are there,” Lacierda said.
CNN Philippines’ Anjo Alimario and JC Gotinga contributed to this report.