Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Duterte may be impeached if he enters into joint oil exploration deal with China

Any joint exploration talks between us and any country should be within the confines of the 1987 Constitution. Joint ventures, based on our laws, are allowed except if these are about the exploration of our mineral resources. The use and abuse of our natural resources lie solely on us. We cannot allow foreign entities to join us in benefitting from these God-given resources.

Yes, in Section 2 of of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, joint ventures are allowed with the exception of those ventures involving our archiepelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zones. This is explicitly prohibited.

Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant. 
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. 
The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish- workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons. 
The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations 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. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. 
The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution.

Dax Lucas wrote today a news item about plans by the Duterte administration to seek joint ventures with the Chinese government on oil or minerals exploration in  "undisputed areas" which, officials of Duterte's government says, " those near the Philippines, possibly Recto bank."

Let me caution the President on this---even if these waters are "those near us", for as long as these waters belong to our "archiepelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zones, the Constitution reserves its use and enjoyment "exclusively to Filipino citizens." The provision is explicit. It does not contemplate joint ventures, or foreign-backed exploration.

If this President enters into a deal with the Chinese government for a state-to-state exploration activity, this is illegal and unconstitutional and may be used to impeach this President. Should Mr. Duterte insists on this, he will be placing this entire country into such a mess, like a Civil war.

We, the Filipino People, have fought for our rights unto these waters for so long, longer than any other in Southeast Asia. Just following the ruling of the International tribunal, this is simply not a dispute or an issue, because these waters lie solely on the exclusive economic zone enjoyed by our Country based on international law.

We, the Filipino People, are a peace-loving people. We don't want war, as war is never a part of our national policy.

The issue of sovereignty is most important to all of us. It is our right to live. It is a right enjoyed by every democratic people everywhere.

Duterte says we are not mendicants. Duterte says we are to pursue an independent foreign policy. Then, why do we go to China now to explore something which is patently illegal and unconstitutional. Why are we doing this to ourselves?

The entire international community has already recognized our rights over these waters. It is not right or even constitutional that we even contemplate on giving the Chinese every single chance of exploring "even uncontested waters" because such areas belong to us, exclusively, for the use of our people, not the Chinese. Our Constitution is very much clear on that. We need to respect our Constitution. Otherwise, why respect government?

If our President would not respect or honor this Constitution, then, why do we need to respect the very office he holds? For the Office of the President was created by this Constitution.

My good friend and kuya, now Lawyer, Alex Lacson once asked me to read Henry David Thoreau. And I did.

Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience, which the American did write, I think in 1848 after leaving Walden Pond. The essay was about imperialism and anti-slavery. America was entering the stage of imperialism, at a time when the united states was waging war against Mexico in the American-Mexico war.

He says that governments are sometimes agents of injustice, and by conscience, peoples are not necessarily obligated to follow governments that promote injustices. Thoreau then wrote this memorable quote:

"I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient."