MANILA – Retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio believes China will follow the arbitration in the South China Sea with the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with the Philippines on joint oil and gas exploration.
"Yes, I think so, and to quote Secretary Teddyboy Locsin: 'We're almost there,'" Carpio said in a speech he gave at the University of the Philippines Law Alumni Homecoming on Thursday.
During a visit to Manila in November 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed MOU on joint cooperation to explore and exploit oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea despite his position that Beijing would never recognize Manila's arbitration victory.
Carpio said that the working conditions for implementing the MOU have been signed by both countries and steering group already had its first meeting in Beijing last week.
Under MOU and TOR, Carpio said that China through its state-owned commercial company China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) will participate in exploring and extracting oil and gas in the Western Philippines as a service contractor or through service contractor for the Philippine government.
"A service contractor recognizes that the oil and gas belong to the Philippine government. A service contractor does not claim to be the owner of oil and gas, otherwise it will not be a service contractor only if it believes it owns oil and gas," Carpio said .
By MOU, TOR and the Carpio service said this should be enough to protect the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.
"As long as we abide by the MOU and TOR, which recognize the service agreement as a way of cooperation between the Philippines and China, we do not compromise our sovereign rights.
He also does not see the need to explicitly waive China to waive in writing any sovereign rights within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone of the West Philippine Sea.
"We cannot expect China to explicitly allow its own people to learn the historical story of the Chinese government over the past 70 years is completely false. We must help China make a face-saving exit to its own people without, h owever, compromising our own sovereign rights, "he said.
At the same time, he emphasized the need to keep pressure on China and continue to convince the Duterte administration to assert Filipino sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea under the rule of law.  "Only then can we be assured that our sovereign rights will remain with us permanently for the benefit of the current generation of Filipinos, and the generations of Filipinos that will still come, "he said.
Antonio Carpio, West Philippine Sea, South China Sea, Arbitration, China, Beijing