Unconstitutional? PH-China exploration deal a go despite dispute – Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte is adamant that the Philippines can forge a joint oil and gas exploration deal with China despite unresolved territorial issues in parts of the West Philippine Sea.
“Now, there is an offer for a joint exploration and others would say that it’s unconstitutional. By what standard? Can’t a country go into a business just because there is a pending issue of jurisdiction?” said Duterte in a press conference June 6.
Associate Justice Antonio Carpio claimed Duterte would violate the Constitution if he agreed to enter into a pact with China to hunt for oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea. Carpio said the Chinese companies must first recognize Philippine sovereignty before forging the venture.
Duterte is eyeing two exploration ventures with China in the
West Philippine Sea – Service Contract 57, located in Calamian, north west of Palawan; and Service Contract 72, located in the disputed Recto (Reed) Bank which both the Philippines and China were claiming.
For Duterte, the country could not afford to wait to resolve the thorny territorial issues with China while potent oil and gas reserves remain untapped under the disputed waters and the Malampaya gas field, the country’s main source of power, expected to be depleted by 2024.
“If this is historical claim (by China) and this is an arbitration award (for the Philippines), now, who wins? Nobody,” said Duterte.
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