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Old map shows Panatag in PH territory

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command yesterday received a replica of a centuries-old map showing Panatag or Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine territory.

A framed replica of the 282-year-old 1734 Murillo Velarde Map of the Philippine Archipelago was handed over by businessman Mel Velarde to Lt. Gen. Romeo T. Tanalgo, AFP Nolcom commander.

Velarde is president and chief executive officer of Now Corp. and chairman of the board, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.

Originally known as “Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Filipinas,” the map was drawn by the Jesuit Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde (1696-1753).

It was the first and internationally recognized scientific map of the Philippines that was published in Manila in 1734 showing the disputed Scarborough Shoal also known as “Bajo de Masinloc” being part of Philippine territory as far back as three centuries ago.

The map was used by the Philippines to support its case against China before the United Nations arbitral court. It locates the Scarborough Shoal, then known “Panacot Island” and was later called “Panatag” by Filipinos, off the shores of Luzon, then known as Nueva Castilla.

In 2012, however, China gained control of the Scarborough following a standoff with Philippine vessels. Since then, the Chinese has been driving away Filipino fishermen from the shoal, which used to be their traditional fishing ground.

In his message during a ceremony at the Nolcom headquarters in Tarlac City, Velarde emphasized the significance of donating the replica of the Murillo Velarde map to the AFP unit primarily tasked to protect the country’s maritime domain in the northern frontier, including the Scarborough Shoal.

“Why is the replica of the Murillo Map being donated at Northern Luzon Command? The Northern Luzon Command is the protector, watcher, caretaker, defender of Bajo de Masinloc under Northern Luzon Command’s direct jurisdiction,” Velarde said.

Tanalgo lauded Velarde for his patriotic donation of a framed replica of the 1734 Murillo Map to Nolcom. “Mr. Velarde’s exhibited act of patriotism is unique and unmatched . . . ensuring the 1734 map landed in the hands of Filipino people… And we are lucky to be the first (to receive) among the institutions,” Tanalgo said.

He said the map will serve as a reminder to the Nolcom and all other operating command that will be receive the same that “Scarborough Shoal is ours.”

“Today’s activity implores the spirit of “bayanihan” among all of us in terms of securing our national sovereignty and protecting national interest. In times like this, every patriotic act matters,” said the AFP Nolcom commander. (Elena L. Aben)