Joint exploration would waive PH rights over West Philippine Sea: Hilbay


MANILA—The Philippines would waive its rights over the West Philippine Sea should it agree to a joint oil and gas exploration with China, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said Saturday.

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“That’s rather blatantly unconstitutional. It’s against the decision in the Philippines vs. China, which declares that we don’t have any overlapping entitlements with China over the West Philippine Sea. Which means that the potential oil and gas, such as Reed Bank, is entirely and exclusively ours,” Hilbay told ANC.

“The moment you enter into some kind of an agreement such as co-ownership, you are recognizing the right of the co-owner, which will result in the waiver of the decision in Philippines vs China.”

Included in a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was a clarification of Manila’s sovereign right to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, within its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

Hilbay said the least that government could do is to file a diplomatic protest against China.

“I think at the minimum, we should’ve filed multiple formal protests already and yet up to this day we have not seen any move on the part of the administration to file even just a formal protest, which is a minimum requirement for these types of problems,” he said.

The former solicitor general said the Philippines should team up with other claimants in the South China Sea to protest against Beijing.