'Cha-cha' proposal boosting territorial claims will have no impact: analyst


Posted at Apr 20 2018 11:04 AM | Updated as of Apr 20 2018 11:36 AM

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MANILA - A provision strengthening the Philippines' sovereignty rights in a new federal constitution is not necessary, the director of UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea said Friday.

Professor Jay Batongbacal said this provision may only open diplomatic protests from China and Malaysia, as the Philippines has claims both on the South China Sea and Sabah.

"The Constitution binds only the Filipino people. It will not have any impact on other states. It will not affect them, or their rights or claims," he told ANC.

"It will not have an intended impact on strengthening your claims. What will strengthen our claim is not what you say on the law but what you do on the ground," he added.

Fiery Cross Reef. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / Digitalglobe

However, former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, a member of President Rodrigo Duterte's consultative committee on charter change, disagrees with Batongbacal's views. 

"These would strengthen these claims of ours, as validated by international law, practiced treaties and decisions of the tribunal. This is not a limiting factor, just in case there would be other territories subject to our jurisdiction," he told ANC.

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The charter change committee is proposing to “obligate” the government to pursue the Philippines’ sovereign rights over parts of its territory now being claimed by China.

The committee's proposal also provides a clearer constitutional backing in case Manila decides to revive its dormant claim over Sabah, a resource-rich area administered by Malaysia.