Antonio Carpio: âJoint exploration, exploitation in West Philippine Sea unconstitutionalâ
“Joint exploration and exploitation” as defined by law “will diminish our ‘full control’ and thus violate the Constitution,” acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said.
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Antonio Carpio: ‘Joint exploration, exploitation in West Philippine Sea unconstitutional’

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Joint exploration and exploitation of resources in the West Philippine Sea with China is unconstitutional, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said yesterday.

“Joint exploration and exploitation is prohibited in our Constitution, which requires that the Philippines shall have ‘full control and supervision’ in the exploration and exploitation of natural resources,” he explained in a text message.

“Joint exploration and exploitation” as defined by law “will diminish our ‘full control’ and thus violate the Constitution,” he said.  

But at a forum over the weekend, Carpio said allowing Chinese participation in oil and gas exploration through Philippine service contracts might be acceptable.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on oil and gas exploration during the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping had sparked concerns the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea would be compromised.

Carpio said a portion of the MOU appeared to suggest China’s willingness to recognize service contracting by the Philippines – or ultimately the country’s sovereign rights over areas covered by service contracts.

“I don’t have any objection with that kind of arrangement because if China comes in through our service contractors, those service contracts expressly recognize that the area falls within Philippine sovereignty or sovereign rights,” he said.

“I think we’re pretty safe. The government has included service contractors, so if we cooperate, if the cooperation with China on oil and gas activities will be through service contractors, we’re very safe,” he explained in an interview.

The magistrate even suggested that the service contractor in the Philippines’ Recto Bank (Reed Bank), Forum Energy, could tap a Chinese firm as a subcontractor.

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan’s PXP Energy Corp., through its London-listed unit Forum Energy Plc, holds an exploration permit covering Recto Bank.

Carpio said China “can come in as a subcontractor of Forum Energy or it can buy into equity of Forum Energy, or it could do both.” – With Helen Flores

ANTONIO CARPIO WEST PHILIPPINE SEA XI JINPING
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