Sotto: Joint oil exploration with China affirms PH sovereignty
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the proposed joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) being forged between Manila and Beijing would be advantageous to the Philippines, as this would boost its claim over the area and also earn a bigger share for the country.
“It’s a veiled acceptance that we own the [West Philippine Sea],” the Senate leader said in a text message when sought for comment about the proposed joint exploration within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“It conforms with our constitutional mandate of ownership,” he added.
Sotto said the agreement would have a 60-40 split, with the bigger share from this joint enterprise going to the Philippines.
President Rodrigo Duterte is in China and progress is expected on the negotiations for the joint oil and gas exploration agreement between the two countries.
The Philippines and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last year for the joint oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea.
The President himself had said that a 60-40 sharing scheme in the exploration agreement would be acceptable to him.
The MOU was signed amid Beijing’s refusal to budge from its claim of ownership over most of the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The international arbitral tribunal, acting on a Philippine petition, had invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claim in July 2016.
China refused to recognize the ruling and stood pat on its position even after Mr. Duterte raised the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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