MANILA — Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday urged the Philippine government to begin exploring at Reed Bank, believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
Should the Philippines lose resources at Reed Bank to China, this would push power rates in Luzon higher, he warned. This will not also bode well for the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., he added.
“Our most pressing problem with China now is how to get the gas in Reed Bank because Malampaya is running out of gas,” he told ANC’s “Headstart”.
“The formula is to send our survey ship to Reed Bank accompanied by the Navy and have joint patrols with the US in the same area. That’s really the solution.”
Reed Bank, also known as Recto Bank, is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone northwest of Palawan.
A 2013 report from the United States Energy Information Administration claimed Reed Bank could hold up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In the interview, Carpio also explained how the Philippines’ expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US plays a role in a possible oil exploration in Reed Bank.
“How does EDCA come in here? …The Supreme Court said that it implements the Mutual Defense Treaty because the US would be repositioning their military equipment [and] weapons in warehouses in Philippine bases,” he said.
“This will now be a message to China that we are ready to protect our survey ships, our drilling platforms in Reed Bank by the cooperation of the US.
“This hullabaloo about EDCA is really about Reed Bank,” he added.
Early this month, the Philippines announced 4 additional sites for US troops to use under EDCA.
DEL ROSARIO’S LEGACY
Carpio also remembered the legacy of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in fighting for the sovereignty of the Philippines in its territorial waters.
Carpio and Del Rosario initiated Manila’s arbitration case in the South China Sea, which led to the 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating Beijing’s claim in the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio recalled how the decision to take China to the court in The Hague began.
“Early in 2011, I started my advocacy. I said we have to go to UNCLOS tribunal to settle the West Philippine Sea issue because that is only the body that can decide the issue and in that body there will be a level playing field,” he said.
“The tribunal will decide the merits of the case without regard to who has more weapons.”
Carpio said he gave his proposal to Del Rosario, who later acted on it.
Del Rosario passed away last week at the age of 83.
His wake at the Santuario de San Antonio in Makati City will be open to the public until 10 p.m. Monday. A funeral mass will be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.