Lawyer issues caution on PH-China ‘co-ownership’ option

A sandbar seen from Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the Spratly archipelago. (Photo by BULLIT MARQUEZ / AP)

Lawyer Jay Batongbacal described as dangerous the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte likening the possible joint exploration of the Philippines and China to “co-ownership.”

“PRRD (President Duterte) should be strongly advised that as President and a lawyer, even his idle statements can carry legal weight,” Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said in a text message to INQUIRER.net.

In a speech before troops in Marawi City on Wednesday, the President said a “joint exploration of resources” in the West Philippines Sea seemed better than an armed conflict.

“Ngayon offer nila (China)  joint exploration ‘di parang co-ownership. Parang dalawa tayong may-ari niyan. Eh ‘di mas maganda ‘yan kaysa away,” he said.

“This latest one comes very dangerously close to surrendering the gains of the PH v CN (Philippines vs China) arbitration, to conceding PH exclusive rights and resources to a foreign power in violation of the Constitution, and may undermine the PH’s ability to negotiate a fair and equitable solution. I expect that he will make the necessary clarification,” Batongbacal said.

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