Joint exploration in West Philippine Sea not giving up rights – Roque

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said that joint exploration with China in West Philippine Sea will not recognize China’s sovereign rights or sovereignty over disputed areas.

“The President just wanted to explain that joint exploration and exploitation will be undertaken by both Philippine and Chinese nationals,” said Roque after President Rodrigo Duterte compared joint exploration to co-ownership.

Roque added that “ownership is not material here because really the areas that may be subjected to joint development is EEZ – Exclusive Economic Zone where we only exercise sovereign rights. So let’s not talk about ownership, because sovereign rights is different from title.”

Roque explained that “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.”

“Joint exploration is exactly what it is – it’s a practical solution for the Filipinos to utilize natural resources without having to deal with the contentious conflicting claims to territories,” he said.