Philippine judge rules out China gas deal without sovereignty recognition

Philippine judge rules out China gas deal without sovereignty recognition”

The Philippines has identified two areas in the crowded waterway suitable for joint exploration and the two countries are seeking ways to tackle the diplomatic and legal headaches of jointly exploring in the waters, but without addressing the issue of sovereignty.

He explained the joint exploration ventures will cover two areas under Service Contracts 57 and 72 with the former not within the disputed territory and the latter covered by area where China and the Philippines have overlapping claims. China says it falls within the so-called nine-dash line on maps recording its historic rights in the area.

Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio had earlier said that this term should not be used since an worldwide court had already ruled that China's claim to the West Philippine Sea is invalid. "But that is the problem, because CNOOC will not recognize (Philippine jurisdiction)".

Carpio was speaking as an expert on global law and staunch advocate for the Philippines to assert its maritime sovereignty claims.

He was among the lawyers involved in the Philippines' legal challenge against China, which Manila brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2013. China does not recognise the ruling.

"The stumbling block has always been the insistence of China that we recognize their sovereign rights", Mr. Carpio said.

For Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, there is no need for the Philippines to make it clear to foreign companies that any joint exploration within the country's Exclusive Economic Zone must be done within the Philippine Constitution.

"As to 72, the agreement on joint exploration will be governed by worldwide law, because there has to be a treaty to be signed between the Philippines and China first on the joint exploration before it can be implemented by juridical entities of the contracting states", Roque said.

Mr. Carpio said who should collect taxes was also an issue between the two companies.

Roque said the Philippines has no exploration agreement yet with any Chinese entity but the country can look at the treaty between Vietnam and China as a model. "That is under the assumption that 72 is contested territory, of course our position is it is under our EEZ and China claims the same way", Roque said in a news briefing.

"All these joint exploration means that if we ever enter into joint exploration and development, it would not be the first in the world", Roque told the media.

Roque said Carpio voted against the 2004 SC decision but "the voting pattern of which was overwhelmingly in favor of allowing foreign corporations to participate in exploration of natural resources".

Roque was asked whether or not such a parameter must be set as a condition before the Philippines agrees to partner with a foreign corporation to jointly exploit marine resources in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). But they are wrong in saying it's not allowed under our Constitution.

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