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Assert Philippines sovereignty, Marcos urged

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Assert Philippines sovereignty, Marcos urged
“I was pleasantly surprised that the president-elect said that we will assert the arbitral award – that we will not give up an inch, a single millimeter of our sovereign rights, our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea. That’s music to my ears,” Former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News Friday night.
Philstar.com / File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio has urged president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to translate into action his commitment to assert the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

“I was pleasantly surprised that the president-elect said that we will assert the arbitral award – that we will not give up an inch, a single millimeter of our sovereign rights, our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea. That’s music to my ears,” Carpio said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News Friday night.

“But we have to watch the president-elect if he will walk the talk… What he will actually do on the ground, on the water. That’s a good initial step that sets the tone and we’re happy with that,” he added.

Carpio urged the incoming administration to follow the example of Malaysia and Indonesia, which unilaterally conducted oil explorations in their waters also being claimed by China.

In the case of the Philippines, the former magistrate said the country should already allow survey ships to conduct activities in Recto (Reed) Bank, seen as a possible replacement for the Malampaya natural gas field.

“The only replacement of Malampaya right now is Reed Bank. Without Reed Bank, we will have to import LNG (liquefied natural gas). And (imported) LNG will increase our power rates so much,” he added.

“We are in a better position. We have the arbitral award… we have the mutual defense treaty with the United States,” said the former SC justice.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday said the Philippines has terminated talks with Beijing regarding joint oil exploration in the South China Sea.

According to Carpio, China wanted to delete provisions stating that the resources are owned by the Philippines and that Philippine laws would govern the contract for the oil exploration.

“We’re back to square one and the next administration will have a free hand in charting its own path. It will not be bound by any agreement,” added the former magistrate.

In the same interview, De La Salle University international studies professor Renato de Castro also urged the incoming administration to proceed with unilateral oil explorations despite China’s warning.

“The only possibility I see is a unilateral effort on our part, which incidentally was adopted by Indonesia. Despite the warning by China not to pursue its exploration on its waters… Indonesia did proceed to conduct exploration,” he said.

“What we can do this time is simply to show China that we have the courage, we have determination to assert our claim,” he added.

De Castro said the breakdown in the talks regarding energy exploration was an indication of the failure of the current administration to apply what he called the “appeasement policy” approach.

China, meanwhile, maintained its position that oil exploration in areas it claims to be part of its territory should be jointly conducted by parties involved.

“Joint offshore oil and gas development is the right way for China and the Philippines to manage maritime differences and achieve win-win results without prejudicing either side’s maritime positions and claims,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Friday when asked about Locsin’s announcement.

Wang did not address the question on what led to the breakdown of the talks, but maintained that China “stands ready to work in concert with the new Philippine government to advance negotiations on joint development and strive to take early substantive steps so as to deliver tangible benefits to both countries and peoples.”

At a forum on Friday, presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said President Duterte handled the West Philippine Sea dispute “carefully” and “decisively.”

Andanar also said the China-Philippines relationship “has not been any better than what we have experienced in the last six years.”    – Helen Flores

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