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JOINT SEA EXPLORATION

Villar: 60-40 profit sharing with China favors PH

LEGAL Sen. Cynthia Villar says she believes the deal is legal. —JOAN BONDOC

LEGAL Sen. Cynthia Villar says she believes the deal is legal. —JOAN BONDOC

LUCENA CITY — A 60-40 profit sharing between the Philippines and China in a joint exploration of energy sources in the South China Sea will favor the country, according to Sen. Cynthia Villar.

“Sixty percent [for the Philippines] is the majority share. Anyway, they (Chinese) are the ones who will shoulder the cost,” Villar told journalists here on Saturday.

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China and the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding last week to negotiate an agreement for joint development of oil and gas sources in the South China Sea.

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said she was worried about the constitutional implications of the agreement.

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On Saturday, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales spoke about internal forces working against the Philippines’ interests.

Malacañang on Monday slammed Robredo and Morales for making “not only premature but [also] baseless and unfair” statements.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo and Morales anchored their comments on mere news reports, not on the signed document itself.

For starters only

He said the signed memorandum of understanding was “only an agreement to agree to certain things,” a “framework for a future agreement based on mutual respect [for] each other’s sovereignty and interest.”

Villar was guest in the annual assembly of senior citizens from Quezon’s first and second districts held at the convention center in Lucena City.

She played down the controversy surrounding the document signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Manila on Tuesday.

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“We have yet to see the details [of the agreement] except the publicity. It seems that it’s only in principles, to start the negotiation,” Villar said.

She added: “There [are] no specifics yet on how to do it.”

Villar said she believed the agreement entered into by the Duterte administration was legal.

Nothing there

Speaking to Palace reporters, Panelo also rebutted allegations by exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison that the memorandum was treasonous.

“Maybe he has not read the agreement signed. It’s just an agreement to agree on certain things. There’s nothing there that would be a basis there for any allegation of treason. Even the critics say there’s nothing there,” Panelo said.

Sison last week charged that the agreement was “a blatant betrayal of the sovereign rights and national patrimony of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

He said signing the deal was a “clear act of treason” by President Rodrigo Duterte.

To show that there was nothing treasonous in the agreement, the Palace released the text of the document on Monday.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development, the Philippines and China agreed to negotiate arrangements to facilitate oil and gas exploration and exploitation in maritime areas with applicable rules of international law.

The document does not state the location of a joint exploration, but it is understood to be in the West Philippine Sea—waters within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

Joint steering committee

The two countries agreed to set up an intergovernmental joint steering committee that will negotiate the cooperation agreement within 12 months.

The two sides will set up
“interentrepreneurial working groups” that will negotiate and agree on technical and commercial arrangements that will apply in the relevant working area.

According to the document, the foreign ministers of the two countries will serve as chairs of the joint steering committee, with their energy ministers serving as vice chairs and with equal numbers of relevant agencies participating.

The committee will negotiate and agree on the cooperation agreements and the maritime areas to which these will apply, and decide the number of working groups to be established and for which part of the cooperation area each group will be established.

Beijing will authorize China National Offshore Oil Corp. as the Chinese enterprise for each working group.

Manila will authorize the enterprise that has a service contract with the Philippine government.

If there is no such enterprise, Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. will be assigned as the Philippine enterprise in the relevant working group. —WITH REPORTS FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO AND JULIE M. AURELIO

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TAGS: China-Philippines joint oil exploration, Conchita Carpio Morales, Cynthia Villar, Leni Robredo
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