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Philippine SC urged to rule on exploration agreement with China, Vietnam
Publication Date : 31-05-2014
In the wake of China’s recent aggressive actions against the Philippines, a group of Filipino party-list lawmakers has asked the Supreme Court to immediately resolve a six-year-old petition seeking the declaration as unconstitutional of a 2008 agreement that allowed China and Vietnam to jointly explore with the Philippines oil resources in the country’s undisputed and claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea.
“The substantive issues in the present case are of overarching and paramount importance to the Philippines and the Filipino people, especially in light of our current territorial and maritime disputes with China,” read the petition filed by a group of party-list representatives from Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party.
The group said this had affected the country’s assertion against China’s nine-dash-line claim, “which encroaches on our territory, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf and marine resources, among others.”
“In order to uphold the Constitution and conform to the assertion of the Republic of the Philippines of its sovereignty, territory, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf and marine resources, among others, over the undisputed and claimed areas in the West Philippine Sea covered by the agreement, the honorable court must strike down as unconstitutional the tripartite agreement,” the group said in its motion for immediate resolution of the May 21, 2008, petition.
The group originally filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition against the agreement that the Arroyo administration had signed, which allowed the joint exploration among the Philippines, China and Vietnam of the Philippines’ territorial waters.
The agreement is officially called the Tripartite Agreement for Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the Agreement Area in the South China Sea between and among the Philippine National Oil Co., China National Offshore Oil Co. and Vietnam Oil Gas Corp.
While the agreement covered a total of 142,886 square kilometres, more than one-sixth or 24,000 sq km, “was not a subject of any territorial or maritime dispute, and indisputably belongs to the Republic of the Philippines,” the group said in its petition.