The 2016 Arbitral Award ruled that the sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea exclusively belong to the Philippines.
Thus, the Philippines has the exclusive right under international law to explore the West Philippine Sea for possible energy resources and, eventually, to utilize such resources for the benefit of the Filipino people.
No other country has the right to explore and exploit the resources of the West Philippine Sea.
Given that the Philippines has the exclusive right to explore and exploit the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines can undertake measures so that it may be able to exercise such right.
In the context of China’s unlawful claims in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines can lawfully, and should engage in joint patrols with its allies like the United States, Japan, Australia and the UK so that the Philippines can protect its right to explore, develop and utilize the resources of the West Philippine Sea.
This is a right guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 2016 Arbitral Award and the Philippine Constitution.
The dwindling energy resources of our country makes it imperative for us to explore and develop our resources in the West Philippine Sea for the sake of the Filipino people.
Given Chinese aggressions, the successful development and utilization of energy resources in West Philippine Sea would be a remarkable legacy of the President of our country.
(Statement by the author, Chair, Stratbase ADR Institute, former Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs)