A formula for the Philippines, China, and Vietnam in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea

by Philippine Resources - April 24, 2019

By Jose De Vencia Jr.

At some point now or sooner than later, the claimants in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea will have to sit down and agree on a seismic and oil exploration program to be fol­lowed by a definitive oil drilling and development schedule for a satisfac­tory commercial petroleum discovery which is anticipated.

This should include a detailed and definitive agreement in the event of marginal hydrocarbon discoveries, non-commercial in volume, and must be followed through by a series of exploration activities in the areas with reasonable looking anticlines or likely oil-bearing structures before the areas are given up, or abandoned, or preserved for other uses by suc­ceeding generations.

The anticipated agreement should include sharing of explora­tion expense, the more expensive development costs in the event of commercial discovery, distribution of export petroleum to refineries in the Philippines, China, and Vietnam, and/or third-party international buy­ers, and an agreement on a second-round or third-round of exploration areas nearby or in much farther locations.

There is a need for a focussed Petroleum Academy or a unit in the Philippines to train future Filipino geologists, drilling technicians in hydro-carbons-related work who can be assigned at home or abroad for hydrocarbons employment.

The petroleum division can be an initial extension or component of an expanded Base Metals Mining Division in our Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

It will be the workplace for Filipino students eyeing positions in petroleum or min­ing industries after graduation.

The Philippine government must now consider training an initial 100 scholars in petroleum and mining industries for future assignment af­ter graduation at home or overseas under veteran executives and who will mobilize successive waves of like-minded students.

This early, we should have ex­changes with Australian, US, Chi­nese, Japanese, Canadian, South Ko­rean, Malaysian, and Indonesian oil exploration and base metals mining organizations to help develop Philip­pine capabilities in these fields if we have not yet done so, or for perhaps only an inadequate few until now.

The government and existing capable Philippine companies must assist our eager students in these fields.

For all these expectations to come to pass, the Philippines or ASEAN, or just the concerned ASEAN countries, must now initiate work and call first for an initial meeting and get to work soon on valid proposals.

The first task is to undertake detailed extensive seismic surveys in the target offshore areas, to iden­tify the first exploratory drillable structures in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), approximate the costs of exploration for, say, an initial program of five wells (shallow or deep wells as needed), preferably using Chinese or US drillships, with common Filipino, Chinese, Viet­namese drilling representatives and crews onsite.

I must say that in the event of commercial oil discovery, the refin­ing will be done in Philippine or Chinese or Vietnamese refineries located relatively nearby through eventual interconnecting pipelines or immediate oil tankers parked in the vicinity.

Engaging American drillships from the Gulf of Mexico will be too expensive to hire or engage and bring them all the way to the South China Sea for drilling in the offshore areas near Palawan and further in Fujian or on to the Tonkin Gulf area of Vietnam.

I believe if we start talking quietly and professionally instead of shout­ing at each other in the wire news services, television, or radio, our ne­gotiations, aided by our professional petroleum executives and geologists, could agree on a Philippine-Chinese-Vietnamese initial five-wells explora­tion program with reasonable budget costs for an 18-month or two-year period, including adequate time for data analysis.

This will immediately mean two years of uninterrupted peace in the South China Sea.

So that nobody will be more equal than others irrespective of size, might, and contribution, the cost of exploration and development must be shared and divided equally among the three-nation partners.

And the three countries must agree among them­selves who will be the designated “op­erator” who will assume leadership and management responsibility for the drilling program under a Drilling Committee composed of the three na­tion partners who might engage other offshore international technicians for independent consultations.

The sharing system, unless one partner abdicates for any valid rea­son whatsoever, must continue to preserve the continuing efficacy of the partnership and of the system itself which could run for as long as a hundred years or more.

Sooner than later, Malaysia and Brunei should be invited to join the Philippines, China, and Vietnam strat­egraphic oil/gas drilling in other areas of the South China Sea.

An under­standing with China must be reached to deal with Taiwan’s role in the

explo­ration/development program.

If this South China Sea oil explo­ration and, hopefully, oil development project can run for a long period, it is hoped that it will extend to

China and Japan in the disputed areas in the Senkaku or Diayou Straits in the East China Sea.

It can also be a formula for last­ing peace between China and India in their vast conflict areas in the high Himalayas, between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Na­gorno Karabakh, which will put Israel and Palestine to shame if they do not finally agree on their already much-delayed land-sharing agreement.

There are also other Philippine areas for possible oil discovery in the Sulu Sea below the Treaty Line across Sabah which has not yet been explored geologically until now.

The Muslim areas in Central Mindanao have also not yet been explored for petroleum resources, which are Filipino Muslim and Christian brothers need badly for development.

Right now, almost all of Northeast Asia, China, Japan, and South Korea, and in Southeast Asia, the Philip­pines, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Singapore, must send their oil tankers across the South China Sea and into the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and into the Straits of Hormuz to lift crude from the rich oilfields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.

In our earlier humble capacity as president of the Petroleum As­sociation of the Philippines and later as speaker of the House, I had made similar earlier proposals in 1970 and 1987 to the same countries and I believe now is the most auspicious time for undertaking opportunities for exploration and development in the sea.

The alternatives for all of us are endless tension, conflict, and, God forbid, even war.

Source: https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/04/20/a-formula-for-the-philippines-china-and-vietnam-in-the-west-philippine-sea-south-china-sea-and-other-participants/


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Marcelle P. Villegas - March 12, 2019

Defending our territorial rights through historical facts

By Marcelle P. Villegas On 7 May 2009, China submitted the Nine-dashed Lines Map to the United Nations. Their map gobbles up large areas of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. China’s Nine-Dashed Lines Map shows that China is claiming 85.7% of the entire South China Sea. Their claim covers 3 million square kilometers out of the 3.5 million square kilometers surface area of the South China Sea. [1] This is the root cause of the South China Sea dispute, because China did not provide a legal basis for the dashes. The dashes also had no fixed coordinates. With that, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia protested against China’s claim. This story is more than about defending our territorial or maritime rights. It is also of geological significance and fighting for our own natural resources. In January 2013, the Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against the PRC’s claim on the territories within the “nine-dash line” that include the Scarborough Shoal. [2] Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Senior Associate Justice of Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court, defended the Philippines’ right of ownership of the little islands within our territory to the international Arbitral Tribunal. His strategy in explaining our claim was simple – pointing out our legal rights through legitimate historical records. In his presentation “The South China Sea West Philippine Sea Dispute”, he enumerates several important facts about our territory. To begin with, what is the significance of the South China Sea to the world? There are US$5.3 trillion of ship-borne goods that travel through the South China Sea annually. This is almost one-half of the world’s shipborne trade in tonnage. A great percentage of the petroleum imports of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China pass through the South China Sea. The annual global fish catch from South China Sea is worth US$21.8 billion. Additionally, 2 billion people live in the 10 countries bordering the South China Sea where hundreds of millions of people depend on fish there for their protein. More importantly, maritime area that are close to the coast of the countries bordering the South China Sea are rich in oil and gas resources. South China Sea is also rich in methane hydrate which is a potential source of energy. [3] Over 250 small islands, atolls, shoals, reefs, cays and sandbars are located at the South China Sea. These small land area have no inhabitants. The features are grouped into three archipelagos namely, Macclesfield Bank, Scarborough Shoal, Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands and Spratly Island. [2] How does the Nine-dashed Line Map affect the Philippines? The Philippines loses about 80% of its EEZ facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. This loss covers 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space and 100% of the Philippines’ ECS which covers an estimate of over 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space. In 2012, China seized Scarborough Shoal (Panatag) from the Philippines. It is a small ring of reefs that is located about 230 km from the Philippines, but 650 km from the nearest major Chinese land mass (southern island of Hainan province). Scarborough Shoal is rich in marine life where fishermen from the Philippines, China and Vietnam have been fishing for several years. It is in the Philippines EEZ. [4] Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Learn a little about your past, and you may end up with a pretty nice future”. Looking back in our history was indeed the winning strategy on how the west was won in this dispute. Here are some of the historical proofs and legal basis presented by Justice Antonio T. Caprio before the Tribunal. 1. Official and unofficial maps of China from 1136 during the Song Dynasty until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912 show that the southernmost territory of China has always been Hainan Island, and not the areas of the Nine-Dashed Lines. On the other hand, there are various official and unofficial maps of the Philippines from 1636 until 1933 that consistently illustrate that Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines. Centuries ago, the name of Scarborough Shoal was “Panacot” according to the Murillo Velarde Map in 1734. This was published in Manila while the Philippines was still a colony of Spain. [5] 2. The Franciscans arrived in the Philippines in 1578. In 1695, the Coronelli Map of Southeast Asia (entitled Isloe dell’ Indie) shows the Spratlys as part of the Philippines. The map was illustrated by the Franciscan monk, Venetian Vincenzo Coronelli. The map was published in Venice in 1695. Coronellie is well-known for his accurate atlases and globes, and as the Father General of the Franciscan Order. 3. In 1899, the map “Islas Filipinas, Mapa General Observatorio de Manila” was published in Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Coast of Geodetic Survey. This old map resembles the modern Philippine map that we use today. 4. In 1898, when the Philippine Revolution was about to end in victory to end 300 years of Spanish rule, Spain secretly sold the Philippines to the United State of America under what is known as the 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the United States. This agreement did not include the little islands surrounding the main islands of the country, thus another treaty was made called the 1900 Treaty of Washington. 5. The Treaty of Washington entails that Spain had given to the United States “all title and claim of title, which (Spain) may have had at the time of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace of Paris, to any and all islands belonging to the Philippine Archipelago, lying outside the lines” of the Treaty of Paris. Therefore this agreement clarifies that Spain ceded Scarborough Shoal to the United States under the 1900 Treaty of Washington (or the Treaty between Spain and the United States for Cession of Outlying Islands of the Philippines, signed November 7, 1900). 6. Additionally, Secretary Cordell Hull of the U.S. State Department mentioned in his Memorandum of July 27, 1938 to Harry Woodring, Secretary of War: “In the absence of evidence of a superior claim to Scarborough Shoal by any other government, the Department of State would interpose no objection to the proposal of the Commonwealth Government to study the possibilities of the shoal as an aid to air and ocean navigation.” Finally, on 4 July 1946, the Treaty of Manila has been signed granting the Philippines full independence from the United States of America. 7. Scarborough Shoal was also used by the United States and the Philippine military as an impact range for their warships and warplanes from 1960s – 1980s. The International Maritime Organization of the United Nations was notified of such activities. During those years, there were no protests from any country about these activities. In conclusion, “The Philippines today is engaged in a historic battle to defend over 531,000 square kilometers of its maritime space (EEZ and ECS) in the West Philippine Sea, an area larger than the total land area of the Philippines of 300,000 square kilometers. This huge maritime space is part of Philippine national territory since the Constitution defines the ‘national territory’ to include ’the seabed, the subsoil, and other submarine areas’ over which the Philippines has ‘sovereignty or jurisdiction’. Under UNCLOS, the Philippines has ‘jurisdiction’ over this huge maritime space. Can the Philippines prevent China from gobbling up this huge maritime space? All citizens of the Philippines - both government personnel and private individuals – have a solemn duty to prevent the loss of this huge maritime space. It is a duty we owe to ourselves, and to future generations of Filipinos. The Historic Battle for the West Philippine Sea.” [5] (From the presentation of Justice Antonio T. Carpio) On 12 July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal in Netherlands agreed unanimously with the Philippines. They concluded that there is no evidence and "no legal basis for China to claim historic rights" over the area within the nine-dash line. The tribunal also judged that the PRC had caused "severe harm to the coral reef environment" [6] and had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its EEZ by interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration (such as restricting the Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal). PRC rejected this ruling. Their president Xi Jinping said that, "China's territorial sovereignty and marine rights in the South China Sea will not be affected by the so-called Philippines South China Sea ruling in any way", nevertheless the PRC would still be "committed to resolving disputes" with its neighbours. China afterwards sent more warships in the Scarborough Shoal. [7][8] Disclaimer: Regarding “The South China Sea West Philippine Sea Dispute” by Justice Antonio T. Caprio – The views expressed in the presentation are the personal opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Philippine Government. References: [1] “South China Sea Arbitral Award” - https://www.slideshare.net/SamGalope/south-china-sea-arbitral-award [2] South China Sea - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_China_Sea Scarborough Shoal - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarborough_Shoal [3] Justice Antonio T. Carpio. “The South China Sea West Philippine Sea Dispute” - https://www.slideshare.net/SamGalope/lecture-the-south-china-sea-west-philippine-dispute-justice-antonio-t-carpio-philippine-social-science-center [4] “5 facts on Scarborough Shoal” (8 Feb. 2017) by Agence France-Presse and ABS-CBN News - https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/07/17/5-facts-on-scarborough-shoal [5] https://www.slideshare.net/7philippines/the-south-china-sea-west-philippine-sea-dispute [6] Perez, Jane (12 July 2016). "Beijing's South China Sea Claims Rejected by Hague Tribunal". The New York Times. [7] Tom Phillips, Oliver Holmes, Owen Bowcott (12 July 2016). "Beijing rejects tribunal's ruling in South China Sea case". The Guardian. [8] "South China Sea: Tribunal backs case against China brought by Philippines". BBC. 12 July 2016.

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Philippine Resources - August 04, 2022

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Mining

Philippine Resources - August 04, 2022

Diokno banks on mining for sustained economic recovery, expansion

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