An article by Barry Wain in the January/February 2008 issue of Far Eastern Economic Review raises some troubling questions about the joint seismic undertaking of the
The question deserves to be examined in depth for its constitutional and strategic implications.
The Spratlys (Kalayaan to us) lie nearly halfway between the
Incidents had occurred there between the
Nevertheless, some take the view that the dispute should not bar the claimant-states from working together to exploit the marine and mineral resources of the area for their shared benefit. In a speech to the Senate on
This provoked what is probably the only known Filipino-Chinese exchange on this issue in an international parliamentary forum. The Chinese delegate explained that the Chinese presence on the Reef was not military, that the structures they had built there were purely for “humanitarian purposes” (to shelter fishermen in bad weather), and posed no threat to the freedom of navigation in the nearby sea lanes of communication.
Within ASEAN, the territorial conflict inspired a focused effort to craft a Code of Conduct for parties to such disputes. But without alerting its ASEAN partners, the
The agreement is said to cover 142,886 sq. kms. of the South China Sea, one sixth of which, according to the Review, forms part of the Philippine continental shelf, outside the area claimed by China and Vietnam.
Two major issues arise. First, is it in our national interest to be party to this agreement? Second, is it constitutional?
To the first, the answer appears to be yes. Given the growing global need for new energy sources, the merit of the accord seems beyond cavil. Cooperation negates confrontation, and we do not have the armed might to confront
But seismic mapping has basic naval applications. Correct scientific information about the seabed would be indispensable to a country with a submarine fleet. Like
And now the Constitution. Is the technical agreement legally binding as a stand-alone agreement, without a mother treaty that defines the basic policy and is duly concurred in by the Senate? Should the seismic survey prove positive for gas or oil, how would a decision to jointly mine the area find support in the Constitution, which limits foreign participation in any state exploration and development of mineral resources to 40 percent of the capital, and reserves the use and enjoyment of the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone “exclusively to Filipino citizens”?
Are there higher and more fundamental issues that can override the restrictive provisions of the Constitution? Or are there geopolitical issues that make a joint energy extraction activity with