Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on August 1 expressed support for the possibility of a joint energy exploration with the Philippines in the South China Sea.
Wang made this statement a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said that the Philippines has found a partner in developing oil fields, adding that exploration and exploitation of the resources in the disputed territory would start again this year.
Wang also warned against “unilateral development” by other claimants to the South China Sea to avoid tensions and the possibility that no one would have access to develop the available resources in the territory.
Energy exploration at Recto Bank has been suspended since 2014 while waiting for the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The PCA did rule on July 12 in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s claim of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
Former national security adviser Roilo Golez took to Facebook to offer his thoughts as to why a joint oil exploration and drilling venture with China in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in Recto Bank, is “against Philippine national interest and a threat to national security.” Here are his 7 reasons:
“1. It will be a violation of the Philippine Constitution which states, Article XII, Sec 2: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” A 50-50 joint venture is not allowed. It must be at least 60% Filipino. But knowing the practice, they will surely find a way to make the joint venture appear majority Filipino. So why allow it at the outset when there is a big possibility of cheating?
- The most likely joint venture partner is the China National Offshore Oil Corporation or CNOOC, a giant state-owned entity which will technologically, politically, physically and financially dominate the Philippine partner. It will for sure bring in the infamous giant billion dollar oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 shown in photos here and will come escorted by big China Coast Guard ships for its “protection” and to bully the neighborhood. For sure, PLA Navy warships will also be in the vicinity especially with Mischief Reef ready to host warships and combat planes.
- The state-owned CNOOC is indistinguishable from the the Chinese government. As earlier mentioned, it will operate backed up by Chinese coast guard and navy muscle, ready for action in case of a dispute. Should the oil rig be found violating the agreement and our laws, how can the Philippines enforce its rules and laws? In the Malampaya case, the Philippines is dealing with a private entity that did not come escorted by the British Navy, and subject to standard dispute settlement practices.
- The Chinese business practice is different from the Philippine business practice. How would disputes be settled? Disputes frequently happen in joint ventures, that’s why there is an arbitration clause. Would it be Arbitration by law or by muscle?
- A joint venture would give the Chinese Coast Guard the excuse to permanently base their ships in Recto Bank so close to Palawan’s coastline. And they would be frequenting Philippine ports for R & R. That will be a national security nightmare more costly than the oil revenue we can generate from the joint venture.
- CNOOC has a bad human rights record in Myanmar when it even became the target of demonstrations there. It also got implicated in illegal drugs trafficking.
- And finally it would be an unequal joint venture. Aside from dealing with CNOOC’s armed security group, how can the Philippines monitor the production of the oil rig which expectedly will ship part of the production to China. In the case of Malampaya, all the gas production is being transported by pipeline to Batangas and cannot be diverted thus fully accounted for. If the Chinese diverts the production to China, how does the Philippines monitor and control.
- Finally, should the joint venture terminate or gets pre-terminated due to violations, how do we tell CNOOC to leave? Gegerahin natin?”
In a separate Facebook post, Golez urged Duterte not to approve the joint oil drilling venture with China.
“Dito sa Recto Bank tabi ng Palawan gustong dalhin ng mga pu.. inang Tsino ang oil rig nila para sipsipin ang oil natin. Mr. President, Mr. Foreign Secretary, huwag po tayong pumayag! Pardon my language,” Golez wrote.
Golez also laid out a potential scenario in a PH-China joint oil exploration and drilling in Recto Bank. He said China will likely send their giant oil rig that was used to bully Vietnam, send China Coast Guard ships to escort the rig, put the Philippines at a disadvantageous position in various aspects, and put the Philippines at a risk of not being able to monitor the exploration and drilling.
“I submit for the review of the DFA, the NSC and Malacanang what I believe is the most likely scenario in a Philippines-China joint oil exploration & drilling operation in Recto Bank, Palawan area, a sure case of unequal joint development arrangement, putting the Philippine side at terrible disadvantage. NOTE HOW CLOSE RECTO BANK IS TO THE SHORELINE OF PALAWAN, BUT BELIEVE IT OR NOT, CHINA CLAIMS RECTO BANK IS THEIRS!
- China will send either their giant oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 (red oil rig in photo) which China used to bully Vietnam in 2014 or even their newest giant oil rig Bluewhale 1 (the yellow rig shown in photo) or both. The Philippines cannot match this.
- The rig or rigs will for sure be escorted by China Coast Guard ships, an SOP for them, and beyond the horizon ready for action will be deployed their PLAN destroyers. Thus, China’s security force will get very close to Palawan. In case of dispute, China has dominant coast guard and naval muscle in area.
- The Chinese oil rig force will be so dominant, thus setting up an unequal technological, financial, military, security and economic arrangement.
- The Philippine side will have no way of effectively monitoring what the oil rig is doing, the progress of the exploration, the exploration results and worst, the Philippines will not be able to monitor the oil production for sharing purposes.”
Sources: ( facebook.com , inquirer.net , facebook.com )