Events before PH-China joint exploration prospect
In May, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., speaking at a business forum in Beijing, called for joint exploration and development in the Spratlys, a group of resource-rich islands in the middle of the South China Sea.
But Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said De Venecia, the Philippine special envoy for intercultural dialogue, was only speaking in his personal capacity.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said he doubted that joint exploration and development with China for resources in the South China Sea would work, as Beijing would insist on its sovereignty over the heavily disputed waterway.
“Last time that [joint development] was tried, China said, ‘You have to put there in the agreement that sovereignty belongs to China.’ And nobody can do that. No Philippine official can do that,” Carpio said.
He was referring to the joint marine seismic undertaking (JMSU) started in 2003 among Philippine National Oil Co. Exploration Corp., China National Offshore Oil Corp. and PetroVietnam on Recto Bank, a large table mount in the South China Sea internationally known as Reed Bank.
The JMSU lapsed in 2008 because ceding sovereignty to China over the area became an issue.
In 2014, the Department of Energy suspended exploration on Recto Bank as the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III challenged China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea in the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
On July 12 last year, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s extensive claim and declaring Beijing had violated Manila’s sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
After coming to office last year, however, President Duterte refused to pressure China to accept the arbitral ruling, preferring to mend relations with Beijing that had been frayed by the arbitration case. —Inquirer Research
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