MANILA, Philippines — Joint exploration and development with China in the hotly contested South China Sea will ensure that the Philippines will not be in danger of losing oil and gas, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Wednesday.
In an interview over radio dzMM, Cayetano pushed for joint exploration and development as the Philippines does not have the technology and financial capability to do it alone.
“The critics, including acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio whom I respect, have been repeating time and again that we are in danger of losing oil and gas. That’s why we want joint exploration and development so that we won’t lose it because somehow, in technology and in financial capability, China, Malaysia and Vietnam have advantage over us,” Cayetano said in mixed English and Filipino.
He also gave assurance that the details on the joint exploration and development are being worked out similar to or much better than the Malampaya contract so that critics cannot say anything about it.
“If in Malampaya, it’s 60-40, we won’t allow less than 60-40,” he added.
Carpio warned that China is after the abundant oil, gas and fisheries found in the widely disputed South China Sea, a part of which the Philippines has territorial claim.
In March, Cayetano visited China for the continuation of the discussion with China for the joint endeavor and the next meeting between President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Cayetano visited Beijing upon the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The Philippines is actively pursuing joint exploration and development in the South China Sea with China, as a working group was tasked to find a legal framework that would allow the activity.
The Philippines sees no problem in areas where there is no dispute but Manila will talk to all the claimants in areas where there are multiple claimant countries.
Cayetano said exploration and research are the first steps because of constitutional requirements, whether to agree to share the resources.
Wang called the joint development “full of political wisdom” if pursued in the South China Sea.