Robredo: 'Irresponsible' to set aside PH win vs China for joint exploration


Posted at Sep 12 2019 03:10 PM

MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Thursday it was "profoundly disappointing and extremely irresponsible" for President Rodrigo Duterte to say that the Philippines could set aside its legal victory against China to pave the way for a joint oil and gas exploration.

Any agreement "should not come at the expense of upholding our rights to the West Philippine Sea," said Robredo, who resigned from the Cabinet 3 years ago.

The potential site of joint exploration between the the Philippines' PXP Energy and China National Offshore Oil Corp, Reed Bank or Recto Bank, is within Manila's exclusive economic zone or EEZ.

Shares of PXP Energy closed 0.49 percent lower Thursday after jumping by as much as 4 percent at the start of trading.

"Selling that future for a gas deal with China is a shameful way of abandoning that responsibility," said Robredo.

"The strongest anchor to our claim must be consistency—in our official positions, in our negotiations, and in the statements of our top officials," she said.

Duterte's predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino initiated and won the Philippines' case before the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China's vast claims in the South China Sea.

However, the Hague-based court handed down its verdict less than one month after Aquino relinquished power to Duterte, who refused to flaunt the ruling and instead repaired diplomatic ties with Beijing.

Citing his recent meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Duterte on Tuesday said he was amenable to China's request for the Philippines to set aside the 2016 ruling.

The joint exploration agreement will not compromise Manila's arbitral victory, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier proposed to Duterte several options to enforce Manila's legal victory against Beijing’s environmentally destructive activities in the disputed waters.