BAYAN Muna chairman Neri Colmenares yesterday reacted strongly to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon’s statement that a joint exploration with China would be beneficial to the Philippines.
Esperon further added that “they’re (China) spending for it and we’re getting more. More than fair right?”
“But Article XII Section 1 of the Constitution says that the exploration, development and utilization of our natural resources must be under the full control of the state. Unless such is followed a joint exploration with China will be unconstitutional especially if China controls the project,” said Colmenares, a former three-term Bayan Muna congressman.
“Also as can be gleaned from our experience with the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China in 2005. Niloko tayo ng Tsina sa JMSU at dahil tuso ang Tsina hindi sya mapagkakatiwalaan. With this, China was able to discover the location of rich marine resources in the area because of information gathered through the JMSU, which China did not share with the Philippines. It only gave us uselessly blurred pictures of the area,” said Colmenares.
“The Arroyo administration then never protested even if Chinese ships aggressively cruised the seas near Palawan in 2007 when it was well outside the South China Sea and the JMSU area. Now Chinese ships are brazenly sailing within our territorial waters even ramming Filipino fishermen but the Duterte administration itself is the one downplaying the issue,” said the Bayan Muna chairman.
“Nakakalungkot na gobyerno mismo ang nagkanulo sa Pilipinas kapalit ng ilang overpriced at maanomalyang kontrata,” said Colmenares.
Bayan Muna and Colmenares, who are petitioners and counsel in the 2008 Petition against the JMSU, were one of the first to publicly condemn Chinese intervention in the Philippines.
“While the Philippines may consider all avenues for the peaceful resolution of the SCS dispute, we must be wary of lopsided and unequal joint exploration agreements with China,” he said.
Colmenares reiterated Bayan Muna’s petition for the resolution of the case belying the claim of the Arroyo camp that the Supreme Court has resolved the issue.
“It’s not true that the Supreme Court has declared the JMSU constitutional. In fact we filed a Motion in 2014 asking the Court to resolve the issue. China already lost the SCS case under UNCLOS, we hope the Supreme Court will now find it appropriate to rule in favor of the Philippines,” Colmenares added.