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EDITORIAL: Territorial Integrity

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent acknowledgment of the 1898 Treaty of Paris and the 1900 Treaty of Washington as foundations for Philippine sovereignty marks a significant step in fortifying the country’s territorial claims, particularly in the contentious West Philippine Sea.

The move, highlighted during his keynote address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, underscores a strategic reaffirmation of the Philippines’ territorial integrity.

Former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio aptly noted that Marcos’ statements represent the first unequivocal declaration by a Philippine President that Philippine territory encompasses not only the islands within the Treaty of Paris lines but also those identified in the Treaty of Washington.

This clarification is both factually and historically correct, addressing long-standing misconceptions about the extent of Philippine sovereignty.

The 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the United States established the Commonwealth of the Philippines, defining the country’s initial territorial boundaries. The 1900 Treaty of Washington further extended these boundaries, affirming that the Philippine archipelago includes islands beyond the lines set by the Treaty of Paris.

Marcos’ explicit recognition of these treaties reinforces the legal and historical basis for the Philippines’ territorial claims, particularly in disputed areas like the West Philippine Sea.

This historical precision is crucial in the current geopolitical climate. The West Philippine Sea has long been a flashpoint for international disputes, with various nations asserting overlapping claims. By grounding the Philippines’ territorial assertions in these internationally recognized treaties, Marcos strengthens the country’s legal standing in defending its sovereignty.

This move not only bolsters the Philippines’ position in international forums but also unifies the national narrative around a clear and historically justified territorial claim.

Carpio’s endorsement of Marcos’ declaration highlights its importance. Correcting the misconception that Philippine territory is limited to the Paris Treaty lines ensures that the full extent of the archipelago is recognized and defended. This precision is not merely academic; it has tangible implications for national security, resource rights, and regional stability.

As the Philippines passes through the complex dynamics of the West Philippine Sea, clear and unequivocal statements like those made by President Marcos are essential. They provide a robust foundation for diplomatic engagements and reinforce the legitimacy of the Philippines’ claims under international law.

Moreover, they send a strong message to both domestic and international audiences about the country’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding its territorial integrity.

In reaffirming the 1898 Treaty of Paris and the 1900 Treaty of Washington, President Marcos Jr. not only honors the historical basis of Philippine sovereignty but also strategically positions the country to better address contemporary challenges.

The move exemplifies a forward-thinking approach, rooted in historical accuracy that strengthens the nation’s stance in defending its rightful territory.

The Filipino people, upon hearing their president’s unequivocal declaration, should be spurred to vigilance and unity in upholding and defending their country’s territorial integrity.

The declaration provides a rallying point for all citizens to actively support measures aimed at safeguarding Philippine sovereignty, whether through diplomatic channels, civic engagement, or advocacy efforts.

It should inspire a sense of national pride and responsibility, encouraging individuals to contribute to the collective effort of protecting the nation’s interests in the face of external challenges.


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