Roque: Joint exploration in West Philippine Sea complies with Constitution
A joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea is allowed by law, Malacanang insisted on Thursday, after President Rodrigo Duterte likened it to a “co-ownership.”
Duterte, in a speech before the troops in Marawi City on Wednesday, likened the possible joint exploration of the Philippines and China in the disputed sea to “co-ownership.”
Lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, has said that the President’s remarks “comes very dangerously close to conceding PH exclusive rights and resources to a foreign power in violation of the Constitution.”
But Roque said a joint exploration is Constitutional.
“The existing jurisprudence is, yes we can enter into joint exploration and joint exploitation with foreign entities provided that it complies with the Constitution among others, it be pursuant to a written agreement signed by the President and submitted to Congress,” he said in a Palace briefing.
Roque said ownership was not material in the possible joint exploration because “the areas that may be subjected to joint development is EEZ, where we only exercise sovereign rights so let’s not talk about ownership because sovereign rights is different from title.”
“The President just wanted to explain that joint exploration and exploitation will be undertaken by both Philippine and Chinese nationals,” he said.
Joint exploration, he said, “is a practical solution for the Filipinos to utilize natural resources without having to deal with the contentious conflicting claims to territories.”
The Philippines and China have been locked in a longstanding maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea, where China has a sweeping claim to the disputed waterway.
The United Nations arbitral tribunal in July 2012 invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea but Beijing repeatedly refused to recognize the decision. /muf
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