NewsWhy did the Philippines cancel a joint oil exploration agreement with China,...

    Why did the Philippines cancel a joint oil exploration agreement with China, and what are the consequences?

    Early last week, the Philippine Supreme Court declared the agreement, signed in 2005, unconstitutional.

    The Philippine Supreme Court has struck down a 2005 pact between the country, China and Vietnam to jointly explore an area of ​​the South China Sea for oil resources. This decision could cast doubt on future joint cooperation agreements in these waters.

    According to an official statement, on January 10, the Supreme Court ruled by 12 of the 15 judges that comprise it, that the trilateral agreement on the Joint Marine Seismic Enterprise (JMSU) of the 142,886 square kilometer area signed between the companies States of the three nations, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam) and Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), was unconstitutional. Under the agreement, which expired in 2008, China was in charge of collecting seismic data, Vietnam was processing the information and the Philippines was in charge of interpreting it.

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    “The Court ruled that the JSMU is unconstitutional for allowing foreign wholly owned companies to engage in exploration of the country’s natural resources without respecting the safeguards provided in Section 2 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution,” the statement reads, in reference to the fact that 100% Chinese and Vietnamese companies were involved in the project, while around 80% of the area is believed to be within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

    It is underlined that, according to the Constitution, “the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources should be under the full control and supervision of the State”, thus such operations can be carried out only by Filipinos or companies” whose capital belongs at least 60%” to citizens of the country.

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    Although supporters of the settlement argued that the law could not be applied in this case, since the project was intended for pre-exploration activities only, the Court stated: “What the parties designate ‘joint investigation’ as a ‘pre-exploration activity’ ‘exploration’ is immaterial. Such a designation does not detract from the fact that the intent and objective of the agreement is to discover oil, which amounts to ‘exploration.'”

    “Serious limitation” for future cooperation between Asian countries

    Notably, the Court’s ruling was adopted after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office in June last year, last week expressed his willingness to resume negotiations with Beijing on joint oil exploration in a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

    In this sense, the court order will bring uncertainty to cooperation between Asian countries, which have been embroiled in territorial disputes around the area for decades: while Beijing claims more than 80% of the South China Sea, these claims are hotly contested. by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan (China).

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    Although the decision will not have a significant impact on relations with Beijing, it would place a “serious limitation” on future agreements on oil and gas projects, since the risk of infringing the Constitution would prevent the Philippine authorities from carrying out such projects, says the Deputy Director of the Research Center for Ocean Law and Policy of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies, Ding Duo.

    He stressed that even if the Philippine president wanted to discuss cooperation in disputed waters with China, he would have to be “very careful” to ensure that any future deal would not be against the law. “From this point of view, this decision will become an important constraint on future cooperation in oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea,” he said.

    “Let this be a warning to Mr. Marcos not to play with the constitutional provisions that reserve the exploitation of our natural resources exclusively to Filipinos,” wrote Former Philippine legislator Teodoro Casino, one of the plaintiffs in this case, posted on his Twitter account.

    Source: RT

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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