PH-China joint exploration in S. China Sea OK if sovereign rights upheld – Carpio


MANILA – Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday said he sees nothing wrong with the proposed joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the disputed South China Sea as long as Manila asserts its sovereign rights.

“As long as the joint development complies with the Philippine Constitution and there is no waiver of our sovereign rights under the arbitral ruling, I have no objection,” he said.

On July 12, 2016 the arbitral tribunal ruled that “China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)…”

China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea encroaches into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the waters, an area called the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio earlier welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement in his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the Philippines would not waver in its claims over the disputed waters despite renewed and strengthened ties with China.

Duterte’s remarks on West PH Sea in SONA found wanting
“Well, that’s the correct position. We should never give up our rights there. That can be reconciled. We can continue to trade with China while we continue to defend our sovereign rights,” Carpio told reporters after Duterte’s SONA.

“There’s no incompatibility there because we have other relations with China. We have trade. We have cultural and all other matters. But we should not do anything that will waive our rights to the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

On the arbitral ruling’s 2nd anniversary on July 12, Carpio said Duterte’s pronouncements that Manila would insist on the arbitral award at some future time has “effectively” deep frozen its enforcement.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had said the Philippines’ “starting position” is a 60-40 joint exploration in favor of Manila.

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“Our Chinese counterparts are open to it,” Cayetano said in a television interview.

The framework agreement for the possible joint exploration is still being crafted, and the initial drafts may be out this month or in September, he added.