Ex-solgen Hilbay says federal charter allows joint dev’t with China


MANILA, Philippines — The proposed charter of President Duterte’s consultative committee (Concom) allows China to undertake joint development with the Philippines in disputed areas of the South China Sea, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said yesterday.

In an interview the other day with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News channel, Hilbay pointed out that the “softer” language on the proposed provisions under national territory and national patrimony will allow joint development of the South China Sea.

“I do know that the language of the draft constitution is softer in the sense that you can technically improve joint development or pave way for the possibility of a joint development between China and the Philippines,” he said.

Hilbay explained that provisions under the 1987 Constitution are “more emphatic” as they explicitly state that the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources should be reserved exclusively to Filipinos.
He also noted that the 1987 Constitution states the country has full control and supervision over its natural resources.

“Whereas the draft constitution simply talks about the shared power between the federal government and the states. It does not talk about the relationship of the state with other countries,” he added.

Hilbay further pointed out that if the Duterte administration is serious about asserting the country’s sovereign rights over its natural resources, the best way to do that is either to maintain the language in the 1987 Constitution or strengthen the language in the draft charter.

But Concom spokesman Ding Generoso said Hilbay’s claims are baseless, stressing that the proposed constitution is more strongly worded than the present Charter.

He cited Article I, Sections 1 and 2, which emphasize the country’s sovereign rights over its territory, including those from both west and east Philippine seas.
“We are strengthening the claims in Philippine Seas in both east and west Philippine seas, including the 200,000 nautical miles exclusive economic zones in both of the oceans. These are not included in the 1987 Constitution,” he said.

“It has sovereignty over islands and features outside its archipelagic baselines pursuant to the laws of the Federal Republic, the law of nations and the judgment of competent international courts or tribunals,” he added.

Generoso maintained that the Concom has emphasized the country’s sovereign rights on its properties and natural resources in all sections of Article XV.

Generoso also said that all critics of the Concom, including Hilbay, should suggest how the provisions should be improved instead of criticizing the proposals.