The Philippines lost the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 on behalf of the Chinese armed forces. On 8 April 2012, a Philippine navy surveillance aircraft identified, during one of its regular maritime patrols, eight Chinese fishing vessels ventured into and around Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), an area located in Masinloc commune, Zambales province, which considers the Republic to be an integral part of its territory. The area is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the republics and the Philippine continental elf. At the same time, the agreement itself provides for a storage mechanism for China. Part IV of the document states that all activities and agreements implemented to follow up on the Agreement “will not affect the respective legal positions of the two governments.” The joint exploration agreement between the Philippines and China states that all ongoing negotiations under the agreement “will not affect the respective legal positions of the two governments.” In September 2012, the Philippine government announced that it would use the name to describe the waters of the western Philippines as the “Philippine Sea” in government maps, other forms of communication and documents.  Marine areas on the western side of the Philippine archipelago are called the Western Philippine Sea. These areas include the Luzonsee and the waters near the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. The protection of the sea begins with the safeguarding of territorial integrity; When a nation uses coercion, subversion, misinformation and other sneaky tactics to get its position in the South China Sea adopted, it denies our friends and partners the right to build a sustainable future. ASEAN leaders expressed concern about the activities and serious incidents in the South China Sea, which “undermined confidence and confidence, increased tensions and could undermine peace, security and stability in the region.” The United States remains required to fly, sail and operate where international law permits and will continue to defend the right to free navigation in international waters and airways. Earlier this month, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike group conducted two-carrier operations with aircraft carriers Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to mutual defense agreements and the promotion of peace and prosperity throughout the Indo-Pacific. The United States supports the Philippine Coast Guard`s ability to defend its waters by providing expert training and new equipment.
The lifting of the moratorium was on the Duterte government`s to-do list to advance its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on joint exploration activities with China. The agreement was signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping`s visit to the Philippines in 2018, a culmination of the country`s relations with Beijing under the Duterte government.