Hontiveros criticizes WPS 60-40 joint resolution with China: “It is preposterous and treacherous." - The Daily Sentry

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hontiveros criticizes WPS 60-40 joint resolution with China: “It is preposterous and treacherous."

Senator Risa Hontiveros / photo file from Inquirer

Manila, Philippines – The recent decision of the Philippine government to go into a joint exploration of natural resources with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) has given away Philippine sovereignty in the contested region, says Senator Risa Hontiveros.

“It is preposterous and treacherous. It reverses our historic victory at The Hague,’’ the opposition senator said.

Hontiveros was referring to the previous administration’s victory at the United Nations Arbitration Court which rejected China’s “historical” claim over the disputed atolls, shoals, islets and reefs at some parts of the Spratly island chain.

"[A]s between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention," the court ruling read.

“Is this the result of the DFA’s so-called 50-100 diplomatic actions against China? Is this what President Duterte calls an independent foreign policy?” the opposition senator asked.

“In case the DFA failed to read the ruling, the UN decision is very clear. We have sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, within our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We don’t share ownership of the West Philippine Sea with China,” she said.

Hontiveros stressed that this was exactly what she feared to happen as a result of Duterte government’s non-transparent and compliant foreign policy, particularly its dealings with China.*

The senator reiterated her call to the Duterte administration to undergo a foreign policy audit.

“This is precisely the reason why I am calling for a foreign policy audit, to determine if the government’s foreign policy thrust and direction are still compatible with our sovereignty and security interests, and whether or not they are still in compliance with our international obligations, particularly the arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea. With this latest development, I hope a parliamentary oversight of the Executive’s foreign policy can be conducted the soonest,” she added.

She also challenged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to junk the planned joint 60-40 (60 to PH and 40 to China) exploration with China and focus on ways to enforce the initial ruling of UN instead concerning the West Philippine Sea.*

photo from NamViet news

“The people want a DFA that is courageous in asserting our historic victory at The Hague, not a foreign affairs office that the public can’t distinguish anymore from the Chinese embassy,” Hontiveros said.

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano announced that China expressed openness to the proposed joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

"That's our starting proposition and our Chinese counterparts are open to it," said Cayetano in an interview report by 24 Oras in GMA 7.

Cayetano, however, cited that it might take time to finish drafting the framework agreement.

Also, he said, officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Chinese officials, and international law experts would meet to discuss the issue, Cayetano added, hoping to finish the draft by August.

"Hopefully this August, latest September will be at that stage... that we can exchange drafts, but even when we exchange it that's our level 'di ba? In our side ire-review pa 'yan siguro ng Sol Gen (Solicitor General), ng ES (Executive Secretary) then OP (Office of the President) so it's quite a process," Cayetano said.

On the other hand, Cayetano clarified that there is still no defined region in the West Philippine Sea in which the possible joint exploration will be conducted.