IT is illegal for the Philippines to enter into an agreement with China for joint exploration projects in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Friday.
Carpio said the Constitution provides that “the use and enjoyment of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) shall be reserved exclusively to the Philippines.”
He, however, said Manila may engage foreign entities as contractors to extract or develop resources.
While the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gives coastal states the right to decide whether to jointly develop their areas with foreigners, Carpio said this cannot be applied to the Philippines.
“This use for enjoyment of Filipino citizens is only for the EEZ, you don’t find this in other territorial sea, or in the extended continental shelf or on land,” he noted.
“But this does not mean that foreigners cannot help us, they can, we can award concession to foreigners who will be the contractors of the state,” Carpio said.
He added that if China will continue to reject the arbitral tribunal’s ruling on the case filed by Manila against Beijing, the Philippines can still explore and develop areas in the West Philippine Sea.
“If China won’t comply, we have four permits, we will continue to explore with these licenses. We will ask the tribunal to suspend the permit of China,” Carpio said. “We need the support of the world to convince China. We also have other means, legal measures to convince China to comply, peaceful measures.”