By Fidel V. Ramos
Former Philippine President
“It would be ‘dumb’ of the Philippines to allow China to explore Philippine Rise despite Beijing’s disrespect for a UN-backed arbitral court ruling recognizing Manila’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea…..”
— Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (Philippine Daily Inquirer,
15 January 2018)
“Benham, or Philippine, Rise is part of our EEZ and the exploitation of its resources is exclusively ours…..”
— Rafael Alunan III (Business World, 30 January 2018)
Our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is the sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over which the Philippines has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from the coast.
THE TERM “EEZ” DOES NOT INCLUDE EITHER THE TERRITORIAL SEA OR THE CONTINENTAL SHELF BEYOND THE 200 NMI LIMIT. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TERRITORIAL SEA AND THE EEZ IS THAT THE FIRST CONFERS FULL SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE WATERS, WHEREAS THE SECOND IS MERELY A “SOVEREIGN RIGHT” WHICH REFERS TO THE COASTAL STATE’S RIGHTS BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE SEA. THE SURFACE WATERS ARE INTERNATIONAL WATERS.
LISTEN TO THE SUPREME COURT SENIOR ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
SUPREME COURT SENIOR ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANTONIO CARPIO WAS QUOTED IN THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER (15 JANUARY 2018), THUS:
“Carpio, the leading figure in the Philippines’ fight to nullify China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea, said the Duterte Administration should stop Beijing from conducting marine scientific research in the Philippine Rise until it accepted the July 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.
“The ruling invalidated China’s sweeping claim and declared Beijing had violated Manila’s sovereign right to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the Philippines’ 200 nmi EEZ in the South China Sea.
“China, which did not take part in the arbitration, ignored the ruling and went on to build artificial islands on reefs in the Spratly archipelago, topping some of them with runways and military installations…..”
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, refused to assert the Philippine legal victory, preferring loans, investments and development assistance from China. The ruling would benefit other claimants to territory in the South China Sea – through which $5 trillion in global trade passes every year.
THE REFUSAL OF CHINA TO COMPLY WITH THE ARBITRAL AWARD OF THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL IS NOT A “NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCE,” AND THUS THE PHILIPPINES SHOULD REFUSE CHINA’S REQUEST FOR MARINE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN BENHAM RISE, CARPIO ADDED.
WHAT IS THE PHILIPPINE RISE?
PRESIDENT DUTERTE ISSUED EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 25 IN MAY 2017 CHANGING THE NAME OF “BENHAM RISE” TO “PHILIPPINE RISE.” THE PHILIPPINE RISE IS A 13-MILLION-HECTARE UNDERWATER PLATEAU IN THE PHILIPPINE SEA, 250 KILOMETERS EAST OF ISABELA PROVINCE, BELIEVED TO BE RICH IN RESOURCES. IN 2012, THE U.N. OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED THE RISE AS PART OF THE PHILIPPINE CONTINENTAL SHELF, GIVING OUR COUNTRY “SOVEREIGN RIGHTS” TO EXPLORE AND EXPLOIT RESOURCES ON THE…