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Marcos admin urged to assert arbitral award to help keep energy costs down

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Marcos admin urged to assert arbitral award to help keep energy costs down
In this undated handout photo received from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on April 25, 2021, coast guard personnel conduct maritime exercise near Pag-asa island in the West Philippine Sea.
AFP / Philippine Coast Guard, Released

MANILA, Philippines — Retired Associate Justice Antonio Carpio hopes that country’s new leadership will have the “political will” when asserting the 2016 ruling in the arbitration case against China, which would allow Manila use of natural resources, like oil and gas, in the West Philippine Sea.

Data from the country’s Department of Energy provides the resource potential of the Recto Bank (international name: Reed bank), which is within the West Philippine Sea, stood at 165 million barrels of oil and 3,486 billion cubic feet of gas. 

Malampaya, which powers 20% of the country’s electricity needs, is seen to be fully depleted by 2027.

“Without Reed Bank, the Philippines will have to import LNG — Liquefied Natural Gas — to feed its gas-fired powerplants in Luzon,” Carpio said.

“This will send our energy costs, already the highest in Asia, soaring through the roof, burdening the consuming public and driving away potential investors.”

READ: Southeast Asia’s lofty gas plans pose threats to waters rich with marine life

The historic arbitral award invalidates China’s so-called nine-dash-line claims over much of the South China Sea and provides that some of the areas are within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. 

Carpio wants President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to be firm when dealing with China to ensure that the ruling is enforced as China has long ignored it and the previous administration was “in severe deficit when dealing with China.”

He pointed out that former President Rodrigo Duterte in April this year “slavishly ordered Forum Energy, the Service Contractor in Reed Bank, not to send its survey ship to Reed Bank” even if it is within the Philippines’ EEZ.

“Hopefully, the new Marcos administration will find the courage to exercise the much-needed political will, otherwise Filipinos will be condemned to suffer even higher energy costs than what they are already experiencing today,” Carpio said. 

Carpio noted that two other countries in Southeast Asia were able to assert their sovereignty over their EEZ.

“Two coastal states, Malaysia and Indonesia, whose EEZ are enroached by China’s nine-dash line, asserted their sovereign rights in their EEZs despite threats of war from China and harassment from Chinese Coast Guard vessels,” Carpio said.

“Malaysia and Indonesia successfully asserted their sovereign rights even without an arbitral award or a Mutual Defense Treaty with a nuclear armed state.” — with a report from Kristine Joy Patag

SOUTH CHINA SEA

WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

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