No West PH Sea joint oil exploration deal to be signed during Xi visit – Cusi
There will be no oil exploration deal in the West Philippine Sea to be signed by the Philippines and China during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Manila this November, the country’s energy chief said Wednesday.
“No exploration deal that I know. As of now, none that I know of,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a text message when asked about the possible oil exploration agreement between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.
Cusi said a possible joint exploration deal might be discussed by President Rodrigo Duterte and Xi during the China leader’s visit in Manila by the end of November.
“Possible to be discussed? maybe. But I would defer to the better judgment of the President if exploration deals would be taken up,” he said.
In a text message on Friday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin said he has not seen any joint oil exploration deal in the disputed territory ready for signing between the Philippines and China during Xi’s visit.
“I have seen no such deal. Oil is energy’s remit,” he said.
“The centerpiece of the visit [of Xi] is our joining Belt and Road to which I committed PH in Davao not least because we are the last of Asean to join. It is Xi’s top priority. 183 countries have joined. Last night, the Cabinet authorized my commitment,” he added.
In a briefing at Malacañang on Wednesday, Cusi said the only oil exploration deal awaiting the President’s signature was the Service Contract 57 (SC 57).
SC 57 is an oil exploration and development in a 720,000-hectare area in Calamian, northwest of Palawan.
The Aquino administration imposed a moratorium and exploration and drilling in the West Philippine Sea as the Philippines and China were locked in a maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
“Well, from day one that has been the position of DOE. We wanted to lift it, so that we can resume exploration. But as I have said, that issue has some diplomatic concerns and we defer to DFA handling that,” Cusi said in a Palace briefing. /muf
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