President Rodrigo Duterte should take China to the United Nations (UN) for threatening the Philippines with war if it drills for oil in an area in the West Philippine Sea that has already been declared within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Saturday.
The world body “outlaws the use or threat of force” to settle disputes between nations, and its threat could be considered a gross violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) as well as a treaty of amity and cooperation in Southeast Asia, Carpio said.
Mr. Duterte disclosed on Friday that Chinese President Xi Jinping warned him of war if he insisted on drilling for oil in the South China Sea.
While he did not mention any specific areas in the sea region, the President was apparently referring to Recto (Reed) Bank, which is believed lying atop vast oil and gas deposits, but have not been utilized due to the territorial dispute.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled last year that the Philippines had sovereign rights in its 370-kilometer EEZ.
In effect the ruling meant that the Philippines can access offshore oil and gas fields, including on Recto Bank, 157 km off its coast.
“As a nation that under its Constitution has renounced war as an instrument of national policy, the Philippines’ recourse is to bring China’s threat of war to another Unclos arbitral tribunal, to secure an order directing China to comply with the ruling of the Unclos arbitral tribunal that declared Reed (Recto) Bank part of the Philippine EEZ,” Carpio said in a statement.
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