Ain’t in Justice’s league: Panelo admits Carpio right on Reed Bank being a ‘patrimonial asset’

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Presidential Adviser Salvador Panelo has backtracked on his claim that the gas-rich Reed Bank is not a patrimonial asset of the Philippines, a day after Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio mentioned a 1972 law to disprove it.

In an interview over ANC Wednesday (March 27), Panelo said he agreed with Carpio’s statement that the Reed Bank is a patrimonial asset of the country.

“Sinasabi ni Justice Carpio, and I agree na may patrimonial property na nga iyong Reed Bank,” he said.

Panelo, however, said he sees nothing wrong with making patrimonial assets such as the Reed Bank as a collateral in a loan from China since the government can pay off its debt.

In case the country defaults on the loan, Panelo said the government can use the proceeds from the sale of gas from Reed Bank to pay China back.

“Ano bang problema na iyonh natural gas na supposed to be i-exploit iyon ng contractor… kapag in-exploit mo iyon, ibebenta mo iyon para magkaroon ng share ang gobyerno,” he explained.

“Eh may utang tayo, nag-default tayo. Hindi ba dapat bayaran natin iyong utang natin, kunin natin doon? Anong kaibahan noon?” Panelo asked.

Carpio had warned that China could seize Reed Bank if the government fails to pay its $62-million loan to China for the Chico River pump irrigation project.

The Supreme Court justice said a provision in the loan agreement stated that China could take control of the country’s patrimonial assets if the government defaults on its debt.

Panelo refuted Carpio’ claim, saying there was no law declaring Reed Bank a patrimonial asset.

Carpio responded by saying that the Oil and Exploration Development Act of 1972 converted Reed Bank into a patrimonial property.

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