OPINION: Duterte can’t sell PH land in Spratlys to China

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Apr 12 2017 04:41 AM

Now, President Duterte wants to go into real estate business in the Spratlys.

Before he embarked on a state visit to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, he told reporters that he might sell what the Philippines claims in Spratlys to China.

Assuring China that his order to install markers and flag to the 10 features in the Spratlys being claimed by the Philippines is not hostile, he said: “So, for the information of China, we will not place there any offensive weapons, not even one gun. We’re just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours. And I have ordered the Armed Forces to build structures there to signify to all na atin ito at lagyan ng flag and structures. We did not mean no harm to China. We are friends as a matter of fact.”

In fact, he said, ” Maybe when we get rich, very rich, I can sell the land to you for … inyo na when the spectacle of a war is gone and nothing is dangerous to the Philippines.”

Duterte is a lawyer, so we presume he knows the law and the Constitution.

He should know that he cannot sell any part of  Philippine territory in Spratlys  to China.
Features in the Spratlys, which are also referred to as Kalayaan  Island  Group  (although KIG and Spratlys are not the same as  there  are  features  in  the Spratlys that are not part of the KIG) are part of Philippine national territory. 

A lawyer-friend said, ”Foreigners cannot own land in the Philippines.  Moreover, only individual Filipino citizens are qualified to purchase alienable public lands.”

Article XII, Sec. 2 states that “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

The Constitution also states that: “All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. “

“The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.”

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