A Trojan horse: Ex-Solgen warns against joint exploration with China

Images from DFN Files/ Ateneo.edu

MANILA, Philippines  –  Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has warned the Philippine government about its plan of possible joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.

In an interview on ANC’s “Beyond Politics”, Hilbay said such plan is tantamount to recognizing China’s claim to the disputed territory which was invalidated by the international tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands in a landmark ruling handed in July last year.

Hilbay was a member of the Philippine delegation which argued the case before the tribunal, ultimately culminating in a decision favoring the Philippines in its long-standing maritime rift with China.

“The term I used is a Trojan horse…Joint development is a partnership with China, the assumption of which is China has equal rights to the area,” explained Hilbay.

“That is an implied waiver. You are recognizing that there is a valid claim there,” the former solicitor general under the Aquino administration said.

Hilbay admitted he was sort of “disappointed and frustrated” with the plan of the Duterte administration to explore talks with China on a possible joint venture to develop the area fiercely contested by the previous administration and for which has received the support of the international community for standing up to the communist giant.

The former lawyer for the Philippine government described the win over China as “big” and was made possible through the effort that took them years to accomplish.

“To a large extent, it was also an international effort because we were aided by our supportive neighbors during the time,” Hilbay said.