The recent Supreme Court ruling voiding the 2005 joint exploration deal between Philippines, Vietnam, and China in the South China Sea has “far reaching” implications, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
“It has far reaching implications… Based on the Supreme Court decision, other countries can now go [into] cooperative endeavors and exclude us, and the irony there is it is because of that decision,” said DFA Undersecretary Carlos Sorreta during the Senate committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises hearing.
Earlier this year, the high court declared unconstitutional and void the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) entered into by the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), China National Offshore Oil Corporation, and Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation.
The deal was signed 18 years ago involving an area in the South China Sea covering 142,886 square kilometers.
The court ruled that the JSMU is unconstitutional for “allowing wholly-owned foreign corporations to participate in the exploration of the country’s natural resources.”
But Sorreta said the SC’s interpretation of “national territory” under the Constitution will negatively impact the Philippines’ exploration activities.
“It is generally accepted that EEZ is not national territory but the Supreme Court has upheld the literal description of national territory… which ties our hands now to engage, not only to be able to tap the resources with others, but has stopped us in the confidence building measure of building further cooperation,” he lamented.
“Rather than protecting and allowing our access in disputed areas, we are excluded from cooperating with other countries to benefit from these resources,” Sorreta added.
The DFA is hoping the Supreme Court will grant the motion for reconsideration and reverse its earlier ruling.
“Up to now we have taken the position that it is legal,” Sorreta said.
In the same hearing, PNOC Exploration Corporation Vice President Candido Magsombol said the data gathered from the voided study are now being used.