Legazpi City (Jan. 5, 2017) – KABAYAN Rep. Harry Roque, reminded the Duterte administration about proper procedure regarding the planned joint exploration between the Philippines and China.
While it is the prerogative of any sovereign nation to enter into such agreements, Roque explained that the government should make sure that such undertakings must be favourable to the country.
Roque who is also an expert on international law pointed out three factors to attain a positive outcome for the Philippines.
First, according to the congressman, is to see to it that such treaty is legal or should be within the bounds of the law particularly the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
The next is that, the president himself should sign the agreement.
He clarified that as president, it is assumed he has all the legal minds at his disposal to scrutinize the provisions of the accord.
This means that the pact was or should have been studied thoroughly by these lawyers before it is signed.
The third and most important, said Roque, is that it should be reviewed by or reported to congress.
With this, legislators would be able to give additional inputs to safeguard the interests of the country in the contract.
Meanwhile, Roque cautioned that if and when the deal is initiated, the Philippines should see to it that the area of joint explorations should only be within the confines of the disputed territorial waters.
The government, he advised, should never allow China access to areas that are unquestionably within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
This was the party-list representative’s reaction to public apprehension that the Philippines may unknowingly giving up part of its sovereign territory through a joint exploration deal with China.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs sees nothing wrong with the plan.
Also citing constitutional and legal parameters, Assistant Secretary Charles Jose admitted that the country needs assistance from other entities to embark on such projects. (J. Garalde)