By William Casis
FilAm Star Correspondent
The Philippines has the right to explore resources in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with or without China, said Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
As this developed, Pangilinan asked the executive department to reveal the details of its agreements with China, particularly on oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
“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.
“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 rights 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 last August 29..
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.
“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.