Reed Bank a ‘patrimonial property’ in 1972 – Carpio
MANILA, Philippines – As early as 1972, gas-rich Reed Bank has been converted to a patrimonial property, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said tweaking Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
The Supreme Court’s senior magistrate warned that China could seize Reed Bank if the Philippines failed to pay the $62-million loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Loan Agreement.
Under paragraph 8.1 of the Loan Agreement, the Philippines expressly waived immunity over all its assets except those used properties of Philippine embassies and missions; those under Philippine military control; and those assets for “public or governmental use as distinguished from patrimonial assets and assets dedicated to commercial use.”
Carpio said patrimonial assets and assets dedicated to commercial use includes the rich gas fields in Reed Bank.
But Panelo dismissed Carpio’s fear as “misplaced” because President Rodrigo Duterte would not declare Reed Bank as a patrimonial asset of the Philippines
Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte would not declare Reed Bank as a patrimonial property or asset
READ: Duterte won’t declare Reed Bank as a patrimonial asset — Palace
A patrimonial asset is a property owned by the State that is not devoted to public use, public service or to the development of the national wealth.
But Carpio said in 1972, the Department of Energy (DOE) already granted a service contract to Forum Energy to exploit the gas in Reed Bank under the Oil and Exploration Development Act of 1972, as amended.
Section 8 of this law states: “The (service) contract may authorize the Contractor to take and dispose of and market either domestically or for export all petroleum produced under the contract subject to supplying the domestic requirements of the Republic of the Philippines on a pro-rata basis.”
“This law proclaims the oil and gas covered by a service contract as subject to sale to the market – which makes such oil and gas patrimonial. The power to reclassify from public domain to patrimonial is a legislative power. The president’s power to so reclassify was merely delegated by Congress,” Carpio said in a text message to reporters.
Seismic surveys have indicated that Recto Bank is rich in oil and gas deposits.
The UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in 2016 that Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, meaning the country has sole sovereign right to explore resources there.
China who is also claiming the Recto Bank has rejected the ruling. /cbb
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