Planned PH-China joint oil hunt within WPS to conform to Constitution – DFA

July 26, 2017 - 7:04 PM
REUTERS South China Sea infograph
Reuters infograph depicts the contested territories between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Wednesday the Philippines and China have started negotiations on the proposed joint oil exploration project within the West Philippine Sea, and gave assurances the deal will conform to the Constitution and local laws.

“It’s complicated because you have the commercial side. It has to be commercially and economically viable and of course there are industry standards in sharing but it has to be in conformity with our Constitution,” he said in a press briefing.

Cayetano added that with the approval of the President, the country intended that any future deal would be more beneficial for the country than that of Malampaya project.

He earlier cited the Malampaya project as an example of how the Philippine Constitution allowed the exploration of natural resources in cooperation with some foreign corporations or foreign entities.

“Despite constitutional provisions that only Filipinos should benefit, the Malampaya (project) [was a] joint venture and this was approved by the Supreme Court,” he said.

The US$4.5-billion Malampaya gas-to-power project is a joint undertaking of the Philippine national government and the private sector.

It was spearheaded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and developed and operated by Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. on behalf of joint venture partners Chevron Malampaya LLC and the PNOC Exploration Corporation.

The DFA chief also assured the public that any agreement would “not give up a single inch” of the country’s territorial integrity.

He stressed that one cannot look at the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea in isolation.

In areas “where there are no disputes, we can go 100 percent full steam ahead in the same pattern as Malampaya; but still I will ask the Department of Energy for a better deal than Malampaya,” he added.