MANILA - A senator, who once served as the country's back-channel negotiator to China, believes the Philippines may be at a disadvantage if it pushes through with proposed joint energy exploration with Beijing.
Senator Antonio Trillanes said Thursday Filipinos may be reduced to just mere observers in a joint exploration with China because of its technology, similar to what happened during the 2004 Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking.
"In that particular undertaking, the Filipinos aboard their research vessels were just mere observers because they can't understand the language and they can't understand the readings in the equipment," he told ANC.
"Similar to a joint exploration, we expect China to dominate the whole engagement because Filipinos right now do not have the capability and the technology to do such undertaking," the opposition senator added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte's administration is working on a framework for possible oil exploration with China where companies can work on a commercial level without damaging the country’s claims.
Malacañang also maintained that the proposed joint exploration with China follows the Constitution, and also the 60-40 sharing scheme that was similarly implemented in the exploration of the Malampaya gas field.
But Trillanes warned that while a 60-40 sharing policy looks fair at face value, China may crunch the numbers differently and manipulate the deal to its advantage.
"Once they crunch the numbers, they can manipulate stuff and make you believe you are actually getting is 60 percent when in reality you may actually just be getting 10 percent," said Trillanes.