From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 3): Constitution allows joint exploration in WPS: Palace
Malacañang on Saturday reiterated that joint exploration at West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is allowed in the 1987 Constitution.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement as critics of the Duterte administration, who according to him, acted like Supreme Court (SC) justices, continued to insist that the joint exploration violated the law.
“Ang problema doon sa mga kritiko ng administrasyon nais nilang maging justices ng Supreme Court, maghintay muna po kayong maitalaga diyan at maghintay muna kayong magkaroon ng kapangyarihang gumawa ng desisyon,” Roque said in a briefing in Zamboanga del Norte. (“The problem with the critics of the administration is that they all want to be Supreme Court justices, lets just wait to be appointed there at wait to have the same power to make those decisions.”)
Roque again cited a 2004 La Bugal ruling which provides that the President could enter intoagreements with foreign entities for large-scale explorations.
“Malinaw po ang La Bugal, ang joint exploration po ay pinapayagan sa ating Saligang Batas basta alinsunod ito sa isang kontrata na nilagdaan ng Presidente at isusumite sa Kongreso (La Bugal is clear, joint explorations are allowed in our Constitution as long as it follows the contract signed by the President and submitted to the Congress),” Roque said.
He also insisted that joint explorations were “constitutional” in both disputed and undisputed areas.
“Constitutional po ang mga joint exploration doon po sa area na walang dispute, kagaya ng 57 at doon sa area na mayroong dispute kagaya ng 72 (Joint explorations are constitutional in areas without dispute like 57 and areas with dispute like 72),” Roque said.
Roque also clarified anew what President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement which likened the proposed joint exploration with China in the disputed territory to “co-ownership”.
“Hindi naman niya sinasabi na magko-co-owner tayo. Kaya lang habang hindi natin rini-resolba pa iyong pagkakaiba, iyong pag-aangkinan ng teritoryo, ang tingin ng Presidente ay mas mabuti na makinabang na sa pamamagitan ng joint exploration (He didn’t say we would be co-owners. While we haven’t resolved our differences, our territorial dispute, the President thinks that it’s best that we can benefit from joint exploration),” Roque said.
Roque earlier said the Palace still trusts ins China’s good faith commitment not to make new artificial islands in Scarborough Shoal.
Scarborough Shoal is claimed only by the Philippines and China while Spratly’s Group of Islands where China started to build artificial islands even before Duterte’s came to office midway of 2016 are also claimed by other nations, according to Roque.
In July 2016, the Permanent Court on Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines’ case contesting China’s nine-dash line claim that covers nearly the whole of WPS which supposedly rich in oil and gas resources.
Duterte has opted to maintain friendly through peaceful dialogues while improving economic ties with China.