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Manila rejects Mahathir's claim over disputed shoal.

MANILA, June 28 Kyodo The Philippines on Monday reiterated its claim over a shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands, rejecting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's statement that Malaysia had the right to build structures there because the area is part of his country's exclusive economic zone.

President Spokesman Fernando Barican said a statement that Investigator Shoal, known in the Philippines as Pawikan Shoal, is part of the Philippines' national territory. He said the shallow falls within his country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"The Philippines, therefore, exercises jurisdiction and sovereign rights over the shoal," he said. "In this light, the Philippines again calls on Malaysia, a close neighbor and a fellow founding member of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), to reconsider its current actions in Pawikan Shoal in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity and cooperation and in the interest of peace and stability in the region," Barican said.

He said the Philippine government will try to arrive at a peaceful and mutually satisfactory solution to the dispute and strongly hopes that Malaysia will do the same.

Barican was reacting to reports quoting Mahathir as saying the portions in the Spratlys where Malaysia has built structures were part of its territory.

Last Thursday, Manila lodged a diplomatic protest with Malaysia over the structures, which include a two-story building, a radar antenna and a rectangular platform capable of serving as a helipad. Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon summoned Rahman Badruddin, charge d'affaires of the Malaysian embassy, and handed him the protest note. Siazon said the note mentions various ASEAN declarations which urge member nations to restrain activities in the South China Sea to avoid destabilizing the region.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam -- all ASEAN members -- along with China and Taiwan, have overlapping claims in the Spratlys.

The Philippines' latest tiff with Malaysia follows a similar one with China, which built structures on Mischief Reef, another Philippine-claimed area in the Spratlys.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jul 5, 1999
Words:334
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