Palace defends ’60-40′ sharing deal with China
The offer of President Rodrigo Duterte for a “60-40” sharing deal with China on the joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea is not unconstitutional, Malacanang said on Monday.
Citing a 2004 Supreme Court ruling in the La Bugal vs. Ramos case, which stated that the state could secure the help of foreign companies to explore the country’s mineral resources for as long as it retains full control, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government is allowed to pursue such an agreement.
“Yun nga ang pagkakamali ng mga (That is the mistake of) self-professed and proclaimed experts, basahin ninyo (read the ) La Bugal vs. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Allowed na po yan (It is allowed),” Roque said.
He added that the government is only required to give Congress a copy of the agreement.
“Ang requirement ng Saligang Batas lang bigyan ninyo kami ng kopya ang… ang Kongreso ‘pag meron na kayong kasunduan na nakasulat (The only requirement of the Constitution is to give us a copy …and Congress when you already have a written agreement,” he said.
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio had earlier that the ruling only covered land exploration.
Meanwhile, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay maintained that the proposed deal is unconstitutional.
Hilbay cited Article XII, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution, which provides that “The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under full control and supervision of the State.”
“The decision in Philippines vs. China clearly states that the Philippines don’t share with China any “overlapping entitlements” in the West Philippine Sea – our exclusive economic zone is exclusively ours,” he said.
Hilbay added that such agreement “inevitably leads to a waiver of our victory at The Hague because the sharing implies that China has a right to our waters. Effectively, it recognizes the 9-Dash Line declared illegal under UNCLOS.”
“Only the Congress, not the President, can set the framework for any agreement over our natural resources, and within the bounds of our Constitution,” he said. /ee
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