This is from mb.com.ph.
It seems that some in the Philippines think that the joint Vietnamese, Philippines, China deal was signed in exchange for some payments to persons in the Philippines associated with the broadband and other deals. Since there may be oil and gas reserves in the Spratly Islands area there is bound to be some degree of conflict as to who owns what. An agreement between the three concerned countries though does seem a positive development in principle at least.
Accord with RP, Vietnam conducive to peace – China
Charissa M. Luci
The Chinese government stood firm yesterday that the tripartite cooperation agreement it forged with the Philippines and Vietnam is "conducive" to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Peng Xiubin, Chinese embassy spokesman, said his government’s position on the issue is "consistent and explicit."
"China stands for peaceful resolution of disputes over the South China Sea through friendly consultation. In order to maintain stability in the South China Sea and to promote mutually beneficial cooperation, China has put forward the proposition of shelving disputes and going in for joint development, which serves the common interest of all sides concerned," he said in a statement.
The Chinese official said the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU), an agreement signed in 2004 by China and the Philippines and with Vietnam the following year, complies with the principles of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
It is "conducive to maintenance of peace and stability in South China Sea and the region at large," he said.
Peng also expressed China’s concern over claims that such deal impinged on the Philippines’ sovereignty and territorial integrity on the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea and has something to do with the Chinese loans.
"China is worried about some recently emerged tendencies in the Philippines, which may impose negative influence on China-Philippine friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation," he said.
Various camps claimed that the agreement was inked in exchange for Chinese loans on the infamous broadband, cyber education, North Rail and South Rail projects.
"We hope to make joint efforts with the Philippines to properly handle the problems related to our bilateral cooperation, so as to maintain healthy development of China-Philippine relations and to safeguard peace and stability in South China Sea and the region at large," Peng said.
He said the bilateral relations have been growing over the years, adding that China considers the Philippines as an important and strategic partner in Southeast Asia.
"With the common efforts of China and the Philippines, China-Philippines relations have been developing smoothly over the recent years. The increasingly expanded mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields between the two countries has brought about tangible benefits to the two peoples," he said.
Peng said the Chinese government has established the policy of developing strategic partnership and all-round friendly cooperation with member- countries of the ASEAN.
"As the Philippines is a important member of ASEAN, China attaches great importance and makes relentless efforts to developing good-neighborly friendly relations with the Philippines," he said.
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador Song Tao cited said the three-decades old diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines has moved into "a new period of comprehensive development."
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Congress urged to pass archipelagic baselines law
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol urged Congress yesterday to pass the bill that would update the Philippines’ archipelagic baselines, including its territorial claims on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Apostol said Congress should pass the bill or the Philippines will lose its claims to some parts of the disputed Spratly islands which are believed to have untapped oil and gas reserves.
"Dapat ituloy ng Congress ang amendments of the existing law on the continental shelf, otherwise we will no longer claim what is ours within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) granted to us by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," Apostol said.
If Congress does not pass the bill, he said, other claimant countries like China and Vietnam might claim ownership of even established Philippine territory, like the so-called Scarborough Shoals, which is not claimed by any other country.
The Philippine baselines were set by Republic Act 3046 and amended by RA 5446, but Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the Philippines’ baselines, as defined by the two laws, still do not abide by some provisions of the UNCLOS defining new archipelagic baselines which the Philippines, being an archipelago, should formally claim through legislation.
The passage of the bill that would update the baselines was postponed at the House of Representatives after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) submitted to the House an unsigned document supposedly signifying China’s opposition to the passage of the bill.
Apostol said the Chinese should bring to the United Nations their objections to the passage of the bill that will update the Philippines’ baselines if they indeed have objections to it.
The updating of the archipelagic baselines would also update the 200-nautical mile EEZ of the Philippines and allow the Philippines to come up with a formal claim before the UN over the extended continental shelf in the seas surrounding the country.
The Philippines only has until May 13, 2009 to file a formal claim before the UNCLOS on the extent of its extended continental shelf. The claim cannot be completed until the archipelagic baselines are updated by legislation.