Joint exploration in South China Sea legal: Philippine official

Manila, Jan 5 (IANS) A Philippine official on Thursday said that the potential joint exploration of the South China Sea between Manila and Beijing is legal and constitutional.

“The idea of coming to mutual agreement over natural resources is constitutional and has been beneficial in the past,” Harry Roque, member of the 17th Congress of the Philippines, said in a statement.

He added: “Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned cooperations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country.”

“Under these agreements, foreign corporations may act as contractors, providing capital, technology, and technical know-how and managerial expertise, while the government exercises control and supervision over the operation,” Roque said.

Moreover, Roque said one of the fundamental principles and purposes of the UN Charter itself is to develop friendly relations among states and achieve international cooperation in solving international problems, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Under the rules provided by the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, states have repeatedly signed maritime boundary treaties to negotiate maritime boundaries with their neighbours to prevent future disputes from arising,” he added.