Militant solons slam joint explorations in disputed sea

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Members of a militant group have filed an urgent motion before the Supreme Court (SC) that sought the immediate resolution of the case they filed in 2008 questioning the constitutionality of the Tripartite Agreement for Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam.

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Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares said they are asking the SC “to rule against such a disadvantageous joint exploration agreement” so that China will not be able to use it against the Philippines.

Colmenares added that it “practically gave [China] control of the exploration project, against the case before the Arbitral Tribunal of UNCLOS.”

Former lawmaker Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna said that through the JMSU in 2007, the previous administration not only sold out the country to China, but approved the agreement which could result in weakening the country’s claim over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

“We believe it is important for the court to decide on the issue now that some public officials are entertaining forging another joint exploration with China. While we are for the peaceful resolution of the dispute with China, we must be wary of the proposed joint exploration between the Philippines and China on the disputed islands because as shown by our experience with the JMSU we were put at a disadvantage when the Philippine government allowed the Chinese to gather valuable data on the natural gas deposits in Recto Reed Bank and our other territories,” the lawmakers said in a statement.

Casiño said they have asked the High Court in 2008 to void the JMSU in the South China Sea among the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), China National Offshore Oil Corp., and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp.

“It was the Philippine government who sold the country to the Chinese in the first place,” Casiño added.

The two activists also petitioned the SC to stop respondents from implementing the agreement to avoid “grave and irreparable injury.”

Among the respondents are former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the secretary of foreign affairs, the secretary of energy, the PNOC Exploration Corp. and the PNOC.

“We hope that our motion would be given urgent consideration by the Supreme Court, considering the current situation now in the South China Sea.” Colmenares said, adding that they oppose the proposed joint exploration with China on the disputed islands if it will lead to the same disadvantage brought about by the JMSU during the Arroyo administration in 2007.

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