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People's Daily Online

Philippine lawmaker says joint exploration in S. China Sea legal, constitutional

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:51, January 05, 2017

A Philippine lawmaker said on Thursday that the potential joint exploration of the South China Sea between the Philippines and China is allowed under the Philippine constitution.

"The idea of coming to mutual agreement over natural resources is constitutional and has been beneficial in the past," Rep. Harry Roque said in a statement.

He added, "Article XII, Sec. 2 of the 1987 constitution provides that the President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned cooperations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country."

"Under these agreements, foreign corporations may act as contractors, providing capital, technology, and technical know-how and managerial expertise, while the government exercises control and supervision over the operation," Roque said.

Moreover, Roque said one of the fundamental principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter itself is to develop friendly relations among states and achieve international cooperation in solving international problems.

"As a matter of principle, it is important to consider that international cooperation and resource sharing is a common practice, and even encouraged to avoid tension among states," Roque said.

He added, "Under the rules provided by the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, states have repeatedly signed maritime boundary treaties to negotiate maritime boundaries with their neighbors to prevent future disputes from arising."

"An independent foreign policy demands that we ask ourselves a very simple question: Is it in the interest of the state to pursue such a action? At the moment, my answer would be yes. While some of us can wait for another 10, 20, or 50 years to resolve a territorial dispute that has existed for decades, many Filipinos still suffer in poverty because of the lack of resources and opportunities in our country," he said.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Sta. Romana previously said that the Philippines government is "seriously studying" the possibility of conducting joint exploration of natural resources in the South China Sea with China.

Roque's position is also shared by House of Representative Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, saying he also supports efforts to study the possibility of conducting joint exploration in the South China Sea.

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