Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio claims that the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Philippines on joint oil and gas exploration would comply with the arbitral decision in the South China Sea. Yeah, I think so, and to quote Secretary Teddyboy Locsin: ‘ We’re almost there, Carpio said in a speech he gave Thursday at the Alumni Homecoming Law University of the Philippines.
Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an MOU on joint cooperation to explore and exploit oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea during a visit to Manila in November 2018, despite his position that Beijing would never recognize Manila’s arbitrary victory. The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration decision of 2016 invalidated the nine-dash line principle in Beijing, the basis for claiming more than 80% of the South China Sea.
Carpio said both countries signed the terms of reference for the implementation of the MOU, and last week the steering committee had its first meeting in Beijing. Under the MOU and TOR, Carpio said China will participate in the exploration and extraction of oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea as a service contractor through its state-owned commercial enterprise China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC).
A service contractor recognizes that the oil and gas belong to the government of the Philippines. A service contractor does not pretend to be the owner of the oil and gas, so he will not be a service contractor unless he feels he owns the oil and gas, Carpio said. Carpio said this should be sufficient to protect the Philippines ‘ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea through the MOU, TOR and the service contract. As long as we adhere to the MOU and TOR, which accept the service contract as the mode of cooperation between the Philippines and China, our sovereign rights are not threatened. Face-saving’ for China, says ex-justice Carpio on 60-40 asset sharing It also refuses to see China’s need to specifically waive any claim to sovereign rights within the West Philippine Sea’s Exclusive Economic Zone. We can’t expect China to explicitly admit in writing to its own people that the historical narrative the Chinese government has told them over the past 70 years is totally false. We need to help China make a face-saving exit to its own people without undermining our own sovereign rights, he said.
In the meantime, he emphasized the need to maintain pressure on China and continue to urge the Duterte administration to recognize Philippine sovereign rights under the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea. Only then can we be confident that for the sake of the present generation of Filipinos and the generations of Filipinos to come, our sovereign rights will remain permanently with us, he said.
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