Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday said the Philippines and China have started negotiations on the proposed joint oil exploration project within the West Philippine Sea, assuring the deal will conform to 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 despite the cooperation with some foreign corporation or foreign entities.
“Despite constitutional provisions that only Filipinos should benefit, the Malampaya (project) has joint venture and this was approved by the Supreme Court,” he said.
The USD4.5-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 that any agreement would “not give up a single inch” of the country’s territorial integrity.
Further, Cayetano said one cannot look at West Philippine Sea and South China Sea in isolation.
“There are 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 Department of Energy for a better deal than Malampaya,” he added.
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