Palace maintained ‘joint exploration’ in Benham Rise is not a violation of the Constitution

Images from Schadow1 Expeditions/ KDN Files
  • The Palace has defended President Dutertes’ ‘joint exploration’ with China remark
  • Roque maintained this is not a violation of the Constitution
  • He also said the proposal would be the ‘practical solution’ for the Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang Palace has defended the remark of President Rodrigo Duterte on the possibility of a ‘joint exploration’ with China in Benham Rise; with the Chief Executive even describing it as a ‘co-ownership’.

On Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said ownership is not material in the President’s proposal because the areas that may be subjected to joint development is an Exclusive Economic Zone — where the Philippines can only exercise sovereign rights.

This, according to Roque is not a violation of the Constitution, contrary to Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s view that such a move is deemed unconstitutional.

“The existing jurisprudence is ‘yes,’ we can enter into joint exploration and joint exploitation with foreign entities provided that it complies with the Constitution among others, it be pursuant to a written agreement signed by the President and submitted to Congress,” Roque explained.

Accordingly, allowing joint exploration with China does not mean the Philippines is required to recognize Beijing’s sovereign rights in disputed territories.

Roque added the setup would be the ‘practical solution’ for the Filipinos as this would allow them “to utilize natural resources without having to deal with the contentious conflicting claims to territories.”