Exploratory talks with China should be based on arbitral, SC rulings, says Tolentino
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino on Sunday told the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to consider the rulings of the Supreme Court and the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration when the government proceeds with its plan to have another round of exploratory talks with the People’s Republic of China.
“Dapat po siguro yung pakikipag-usap o gagawing pakikipag-usap sa People’s Republic of China ng DFA, eh isaalang-alang itong desisyon ng Supreme Court… at isaalang-alang din yung nilalaman ng ating Saligang Batas base po sa ating karapatan sa ating exclusive economic zone,” Tolentino said in a statement during an interview with DZBB.
(Maybe the DFA, in its plan to resume exploratory talks with the People’s Republic of China, should consider the decision of the Supreme Court… and also consider the content of our Constitution based on our right to our exclusive economic zone.)
To recall, the Supreme Court (SC) in its decision invalidated and declared unconstitutional the 2005 Tripartite Agreement for Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) before entering into another partnership with the Asian superpower.
The 2016 Arbitral Ruling, on the other hand, invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” claim, which served as China’s basis of their supposed militaristic expansion in the entire South China Sea region, including the zone along the West Philippine Sea.
According to Tolentino any new agreement between the Philippines and China should comply with the provisions enshrined under the 1987 Constitution before planning to undertake in exploring mineral seabed resources within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ)—which was also mentioned in the 2016 Arbitral Ruling.
“So dalawa po iyan, hindi lang dapat po sila makipag-usap, mag-prepare kung ano yung gagawin. So, dapat po lahat ito kargo nila ‘yung pag protekta sa ating exclusive economic zone, 200 nautical miles from the baseline, at yung desisyon ng Korte Suprema,” he added.
(So that’s two, they shouldn’t just talk, they should prepare what to do. So, it should all be their responsibility to protect our exclusive economic zone, 200 nautical miles from the baseline, and the decision of the Supreme Court.)
Meanwhile, Tolentino also admitted that he is hesitant over plans of having new rounds of talks with China, especially amid the continuous bullying incidents involving the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) over the past months along the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Baka lalong dumami [‘yung mga barko ng China sa WPS] kasi sasabihin nilang mayroon kaming karapatan ngayon na mag-drill, mag-conduct ng scientific marine research—eh baka iyon ang gawin, kaya siguro doon ang dapat ay mag-dahan-dahan ang ating Department of Foreign Affairs… baka lalong lumawig pa, maabuso, at lalo pong dumami yung kanilang presensya doon,” Tolentino stressed.
(It might result in more [Chinese ships in the WPS] because they will say that we now have the right now to drill, conduct scientific marine research—maybe that’s what they would do, so maybe the Department of Foreign Affairs should take this slowly… we may end up getting further abused, and their presence there will increase even more.)
Tolentino also explained that the Senate is involved in any future exploratory talks with China saying it involves foreign policy and national security.