MANILA — The Philippines has the right to explore resources in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with or without China, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Monday as he asked the executive department to bare the details of its agreements with China, particularly on oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
“Teritoryo natin ito at likas-yaman natin ito. Karapatan nating mga Pilipino na malaman ang mga detalye nito (It’s our territory and it’s our natural resources. The Filipino people have all the right to be informed and know the details),” he said.
Pangilinan said the executive department should submit a report of such agreements to the Senate.
“Kailangan alam ng taumbayan ang laman ng kasunduan. Sila ang maghuhusga kung makakabuti sa atin o madedehado tayo rito (The Filipino people should know the contents of the agreement. They will say whether this is good for us or disadvantageous to us),” he said.
While the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the oil deal has been signed with China late last year, he said the Duterte administration should be very cautious in drafting the final agreement and should bare its details to the public.
Pangilinan also called on the executive department not to sign any agreement that would diminish the Philippines’ exclusive right to explore, develop, and use its natural resources.
President Duterte just returned from his fifth visit to the Asian power, with both China and the Philippines agreeing to form working groups to explore commercial oil and gas agreements in the West Philippine Sea.
President Xi Jinping said the “steering committee should prepare a substantive program on the matter” when Duterte raised the possible joint gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea during their bilateral meeting on Thursday.
Earlier, the Philippine chief executive said he is amenable with a 60-40 sharing deal.
Pangilinan acknowledged that talking business with China over the disputed territory is better than fighting.
However, he urged the people to remain vigilant to ensure that the administration would not get into any deal that would be lopsided and would put the Filipinos on the losing end.
“Tandaan kampi sa atin ang UNCLOS at ang pasya ng Permanent Court of Arbitration na kinilala ang sovereign rights ng Pilipinas sa pangingisda at paggagalugad ng yaman sa West Philippine Sea (Remember we have the UNCLOS on our side and the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea),” Pangilinan said.