MANILA - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Sunday said it welcomes the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate talks with China on joint energy exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
Last Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said the country was ending negotiations over a possible partnership between China and the Philippines for oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters claimed by Manila.
"For me it is a welcome development na na revoke. But siguro kung natuloy man, based on the previous negotiations na it has to be institution and the laws of the philippines na kung magka-joint exploration, dapat tayo ang may ari ng oil," Atty. Burt Estrada, IBP’s National president said during a webinar Sunday.
Estrada says this gives the new administration leeway to chart its own policies.
"It gives the next administration a free hand to work with any other entity, not necessarily China for any joint exploration or exploitation of our national resources," he said.
But the next administration should prioritize national interests if it decides to forge a new agreement with China.
"Dapat kung may joint exploration...it has to be based on a non- negotiable agreement that we are the owners of the resources, of the oil. And then ang pagjo-joint na lang ay ang pag-extract, pag-exploit at doon pag-usapan ang sharing, it has to be always favorable for our country...national interests pa rin ang negotiation," Estrada advised.