BAYAN Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to rethink its decision allowing Chinese oceanographers to conduct studies in Philippine waters.
In a statement on Sunday, Zarate called the request of a Chinese entity to study the Philippine seas a "modus operandi," adding that it is one of the methods used by China before it entered the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with the then Arroyo administration in 2005.
The DFA has reportedly granted the request of Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences for a marine scientific research in Eastern Luzon waters, where the Benham Rise is located, and in Eastern Mindanao.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano sees nothing wrong with the DFA's move, noting that the Chinese institution has fully complied with the requirements.
Zarate stated that through the JMSU, China was able to discover and confirm the enormous reserves of natural gas in Recto Reed Bank.
With this, Zarate urged the Supreme Court to act on their petition filed in 2008 that seeks to declare as unconstitutional the JMSU, which he described as a "disadvantageous and onerous exploration agreement".
“With the JMSU, the Arroyo administration effectively sold out the country to the Chinese, who were granted an unbridled access in our maritime territory, especially the gathering of valuable data on natural gas deposits in our territories like the Recto Reed Bank. The Philippines has no more control and supervision over the exploration of our petroleum and other mineral oils under the JMSU Tripartite Agreement; this should not happen again,” said Zarate.
"Any future joint exploration with China must protect the interest of the Filipino people and should contribute to the country’s economic development. It must also recognize our territorial integrity and sovereignty. There must be no repeat of the highly unequal JMSU,” ended Zarate.
One of the respondents in Bayan Muna's petition before the SC was former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (Keith Calayag/SunStar Philippines)