DoE seeks review of SC rule, WPS deal
The Supreme Court, voting 12-2-1, said ‘the JSMU violated Philippine laws for greenlighting wholly-owned foreign corporations to explore the Philippines’ natural resources.’
The Department of Energy has asked for more time to study the implications of the Supreme Court decision that effectively nullified the Tripartite Agreement for Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking or JSMU in the Agreement Area in the South China Sea.
“The Department of Energy will study the Supreme Court decision and its implications. The DoE will work closely with the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice in determining the next steps to be taken on the matter,” a statement released by Energy Undersecretary Alessandro Sales read.
China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation, and Philippine National Oil Company or PNOC were signatories to the pact.
The declaration of unconstitutionality of the joint exploration was promulgated last 10 January 2023, but released in full only Friday, the DoE said on Saturday.
In its decision, the Supreme Court, voting 12-2-1, said “the JSMU violated Philippine laws for greenlighting wholly-owned foreign corporations to explore the Philippines’ natural resources sans observing the safeguards provided in Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.”
Bayan Muna’s effort
It was former Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño who lodged the petition for certiorari and prohibition at the Supreme Court.
Undersecretary Sales said the JMSU was signed on 14 March 2005, or long before the tenure of incumbent Secretary of Energy Raphael P.M. Lotilla.
“The Philippine party to the JMSU was PNOC, represented by then PNOC president and CEO Eduardo Manalac,” he added.
The Bayan Muna lawmakers challenged the constitutionality of the joint exploration, particularly its violation of the section of the Constitution which states that “exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State.”
They said the JMSU was unlawful as it allowed foreign corporations wholly owned by China and Vietnam to undertake a large-scale exploration of the Philippines’ petroleum resources, a right meant only for Filipino citizens or corporations and associations at least 60 percent owned by Filipino nationals.
The respondents, on the other hand, insisted that the section cited by the petitioners “does not apply to the JMSU and is limited only to pre-exploration activities.”
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