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

A sandbar seen from Pag-asa Island in the Spratly archipelago. —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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