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De Venecia pushes joint oil drilling in South China Sea

Former House Speaker Jose De Venecia has been pushing for an agreement among the Philippines, Vietnam and China to explore the South China Sea to achieve peace and economic development in the area. Philstar.com, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines should venture into an oil drilling program in the South China Sea with other countries to prevent war, Special Envoy for Inter-Cultural Dialogue Jose De Venecia said.

De Venecia, a former Pangasinan representative and House speaker, noted that he proposed the idea of joint exploration of the South China Sea in the 1970s.

"Why are we willing to go to war? ...When we can have a commonsensical, practical, imaginative, pragmatic oil negotiation in the South China Sea where everyone participates because after all this oil, these waters are given to us by God," De Venecia said in an interview with ANC's Headstart on Monday.

The former House speaker stressed that the contested waters are not owned by the Philippines, China or any other claimant country.

RELATED: ‘Joint exploration does not mean conceding SCS claims’

De Venecia noted that other countries have had successful mutual drilling agreements such as the joint operating agreement in the North Sea between Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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He added that President Rodrigo Duterte may have other plans in setting aside the ruling of an international arbitral tribunal on China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

"If he sets aside the arbitral ruling, he must have reason. It means he's planning to negotiate an agreement whereby the Philippines will have a significant share of any oil discovery in the South China Sea. It's a question of oil sharing," De Venecia said.

On July 2012, the United Nations-backed tribunal issued an award in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China's excessive claims in the disputed waters.

The tribunal ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the Convention on the Law of the Sea when it constructed artificial islands within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

RELATED: Arroyo lawyer: South China Sea quiet during GMA admin

The Philippines, China and Vietnam entered a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the South China Sea during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which was questioned before the Supreme Court. The court failed to rule on the legality of the deal before the agreement lapsed in 2008.  

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