Scarborough Shoal is Philippine territory

The Department of Foreign Affairs released last 18 April 2012 the Philippine Position on Bajo de Masinloc and the Waters Within its Vicinity.

As correctly stated by the DFA, "Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of the Philippine territory. It is part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales.”

“The basis of Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the rock features of Bajo de Masinloc is not premised on the cession by Spain of the Philippine archipelago to the United States under the Treaty of Paris. The matter that the rock features of Bajo de Masinloc are not included or within the limits of the Treaty of Paris as alleged by China is therefore immaterial and of no consequence.

Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the rocks of Bajo de Masinloc is likewise not premised on proximity or the fact that the rocks are within its 200 NM EEZ or Continental Shelf (CS) under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Although the Philippines necessarily exercise sovereign rights over its EEZ and CS, nonetheless, the reason why the rock features of Bajo de Masinloc are Philippine territories is anchored on other principles of public international law.

As decided in a number of cases by international courts or tribunals, most notably the Palmas Island Case, a modality for acquiring territorial ownership over a piece of real estate is effective exercise of jurisdiction. Indeed, in that particular case, sovereignty over the Palmas Island was adjudged in favor of the Netherlands on the basis of 'effective exercise of jurisdiction' although the said island may have been historically discovered by Spain and historically ceded to the US in the Treaty of Paris.

In the case of Bajo de Masinloc, the Philippines has exercised both effective occupation and effective jurisdiction over Bajo de Masinloc since its independence.”

Furthermore, “Chinese assertion based on historical claims must be substantiated by a clear historic title. It should be noted that under public international law, historical claims are not historical titles. A claim by itself, including historical claim, could not be a basis for acquiring a territory.

Under international law, the modes of acquiring a territory are: discovery, effective occupation, prescription, cession, and accretion. Also, under public international law, for a historical claim to mature into a historical title, a mere showing of long usage is not enough.”

Finally, under “international law, fishing rights is not a mode of acquiring sovereignty (or even sovereign rights) over an area. Neither could it be construed that the act of fishing by Chinese fishermen is a sovereign act of a State nor can be considered as a display of State authority.”