De Venecia joint exploration proposal a ‘personal advocacy’—Cayetano
The proposed joint exploration and development in the disputed South China Sea is a “personal advocacy” of special envoy Jose de Venecia and not a government policy, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has said.
Cayetano, the incoming foreign affairs chief, said the Duterte government was focused on promoting peace and stability on the disputed sea.
“I think ang direction natin, nasa peace, stability at tsaka ‘yung focusing on our claims and then focusing on our economy,” he told reporters in a late night briefing here on Sunday.
De Venecia, a special envoy for intercultural dialogue, on Sunday called on members-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to consider a joint exploration and development with China on the energy resources in the South China Sea.
“It is obvious as members of the Asean that today, with China, we must find ways and means to jointly develop the area’s hydrocarbon potentials to help lessen our common dependence on distant petroleum sources in the Middle East,” he said at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum here.
Asked to comment on this, Cayetano said, “Wala pa tayo doon sa ano ‘no, joint exploration or joint development or any of those schemes.”
Before going into a joint exploration, he said “there has to be a legal framework that is within our constitution.”
“Because the President, the Congress and the Judiciary always have to work within the framework of the Philippine Constitution,” he said.
He said that before the government considers De Venecia’s proposal, “we have to see framework that fits our Constitution.”
“Even if we didn’t have a dispute in the area, it’s not simple to come up with a joint development or exploration,” he said, adding that a “thorough” discussion is needed before considering the proposal.
The Philippine and China are scheduled this week to start their first bilateral consultative mechanism to discuss the “sensitive” issue of the maritime dispute in the South China Sea. JE/rga
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