Ensure oil, gas deal with China will benefit Filipinos more - analysts

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2018 04:05 PM

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MANILA - The government's joint exploration and development deal with China should benefit the Filipino side more, analysts said Friday as details about the memorandum begin to sprout.

The deal to explore and possibly develop oil and gas deposits in the Recto Bank, which is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and China's invalidated nine-dash line, should stipulate a 60-40 profit sharing between Manila and Beijing, said Aaron Jed Rabena, program convenor of Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress.

"The reason why our Constitution gives 60 percent to Filipinos is that Filipinos should benefit more from their resources than foreigners. If this provision would be in place, it is as if we are complying with the spirit of the Constitution," he told ANC's Early Edition.

The details around the deal should be made "transparent," even as the Supreme Court has yet to decide on the constitutionality of the 2005 Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) among China, Vietnam and the Philippines, said Rabena.

But Chester Cabalza, vice president for the Center of Research and Strategic Studies at the Development Academy of the Philippines, noted that recent statements pertaining to the deal indicate that there will be "equal utilization of resources."

"It would be advantageous for the Philippines, the 60-40, but we don’t know what will happen to the agreement later on if they pursue the cooperation," he said in the interview.

No government agency has released a copy of the memorandum of understanding signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Manila, yet, but excerpts of it were read by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin in a television interview.

"There are only 2 possibilities here—are we going to pivot again to China or would this bring more problems in the future?," said Cabalza.

"We should remember that it’s not only the Philippines and China who are claimant countries here. There are also other major powers observing us…We need to be sensitive about the repercussion of our actions because if we saw peace at the moment, but it will not be successful in the future, it would be futile," he added.