The Philippine government has created a special task force to coordinate and consolidate various agencies’ policies and operations in the West Philippine Sea.
According to a document released by the office of the president, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, will chair the new task force and includes members from the departments of National Defense, foreign affairs, Justice, environment and natural resources, energy, and transportation and communication.
The task force also consists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard, National Economic and Development Authority, National Coast Watch System, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and other government officials designated by the chairperson.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) will be “responsible for orchestrating and synchronizing the employment of different national government agencies’ capabilities to achieve the national objectives” in the said maritime territory.
According to the memorandum, “Given the country’s national interest, national policies and evolving strategic landscape, a more deliberate and coherent approach in addressing the West Philippine Sea issue is needed for the purpose of orchestrating the national effort and achieving unified action in the West Philippine Sea,”
Before calling it West Philippine Sea, Filipinos call this part of the water as Luzon Sea. However, following an escalation of the Spratly Islands dispute in 2011, the Philippines started using the name “West Philippine Sea.”
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III signed an Administrative Order in September 2012, mandating that all government agencies use the name “West Philippine Sea” to refer to the parts of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.