Duterte OKs joint venture with China

August 22, 2017 at 15:00

Duterte OKs joint venture with China

No sovereignty right, territory will be lost under joint exploration approved by Duterte – Cayetano

By Ellson Quismorio | Updated 

 

President Duterte has given Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano the green light to pursue joint exploration with regional power China in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Cayetano confirmed this Wednesday to House of Representatives reporters during a press conference.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (R) and President Duterte (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (R) and President Duterte (L) (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The instruction to us right now is to move ahead,” said former senator Cayetano, who had a scheduled meeting that day with two-time former House Speaker Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (4th District), chairman of the Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea.

“It’s a directive of the President and we need it because Malampaya will run out in, hopefully, not less than a decade,” Cayetano said.

The DFA chief was referring to the offshore gas platform that supplies 40 percent of Luzon’s power need.

The largest hydrocarbon deposit ever discovered in the Philippines, Malampaya produces 146 billion cubic feet of gas every year. The fuel drives three of Luzon’s largest power plants based in Batangas.

Cayetano, a former three-term congressman, also bared in the presser that he has acted on Duterte’s directive by consulting with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. The Energy chief serves as vice chairman of ruling party PDP-Laban (The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan), which Duterte chairs.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) I talked with the secretary of Energy to have better coordination. I also asked for help because they have the technical expertise. But I’m confident that Secretary Cusi and his team, together with some of the people we will consult, some legal experts, will be able to come up with a doable or workable legal framework,” Cayetano said.

He then stressed as if to assuage underlying concerns: “Walang mawawalang territory sa Pilipinas. Walang mawawalang sovereignty rights (The Philippines won’t lose any territory. No sovereignty rights will be lost).”

 ‘China consistent’

The other side of the joint exploration equation, China, has been at its friendliest with the Philippines in decades, thanks to the efforts of President Duterte, who assumed the Palace seat only on June 30, 2016.

To ease tensions over competing territorial claims in the WPS, the Chief Executive went as far as to set aside the Philippines’ United Nations (UN) arbitration case victory which nullified China’s blanket claim over the entire South China Sea (which includes the WPS).

“In the disputed areas, there have been speculations over the decades that the reason for the dispute is not just the marine life but because of the resources, carbon deposits, or what have you,” Cayetano noted.

“China has been very consistent, when they met President Cory Aquino in 1986. They bared their requirements for joint exploration and joint development,” he said.

According to Cayetano, the challenge for the Philippines is to “conform, of course, to our local laws, any statute, and the Constitution. Then we have to deal with the Supreme Court cases that have been filed in the past.”

“It’s either we find a legal framework that is acceptable under Philippine law that will not create conflict in the WPS, or we don’t,” the DFA chief further said.

For him, what’s important is for the Philippines to get something bigger than Malampaya out of its potential venture with China.

“That is our first offer, that any joint development aside from having to conform to our national law and our Constitution, should also be a better deal than Malampaya.”

Source: http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/08/16/duterte-oks-joint-venture-with-china/




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