EXCLUSIVE: Locsin shows copy of PH-China joint oil exploration deal

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Highlights

  • Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin shows for the first time the oil deal between the Philippines and China.
  • The deal creates a joint intergovernmental steering committee which would determine how the two countries would proceed with the joint oil exploration.
  • The agreement is silent on what areas would be the subject of the exploration and also does not mention how the two countries would split profits.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin revealed Thursday to CNN Philippines' The Source more details on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a joint oil and gas exploration between the Philippines and China.

Locsin showed a copy of the MOU, which he said he drafted, saying it would serve as the "architecture" for future talks on oil exploration with the Northeast Asian giant.

The agreement does not specify areas where joint exploration could be done. Instead, it calls for the creation of working groups that would negotiate joint development projects in specific areas to be approved by a "joint intergovernmental steering committee" headed by the foreign secretaries of both countries. 

Locsin said the mechanism could be put in place within 12 months.

"This is valid and it will endure. This is the master framework," Locsin said. "No other country is interested in the development."

He said the committee would be co-chaired by himself and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and vice-chaired by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and his Chinese counterpart.

The working groups would consist of representatives from enterprises authorized by the two governments.  Beijing appointed the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) as its representative in all working group.  Locsin said the government would appoint several enterprises or the Philippine National Oil Corp. to the various working groups.  

READ: China names state-owned firm in draft joint exploration deal, sets aside claims

The document also states that "all discussions negotiations and activities of the two governments or their authorized enterprises under or pursuant to this memorandum of understanding will be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of both governments."

The government has not released to the public a copy of the MOU which states that all matters related to joint development would be confidential. Locsin, however, said he would provide copies to Senators and release it to the public with China's permission.

But opposition lawmakers questioned this.

"'Di ba sila nahihiya sa mga mamamayang Pilipino na ito ay pag-aari natin, soberanya natin ito na ipapagpaalam pa natin sa China kung ano yung nangyayaring agreement?" said ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro.

For his part, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said withholding details of the document will only raise suspicion that it is unconstitutional.

Three lawmakers oppose a joint exploration deal, saying  it would  weaken the Philippines' maritime claim in the West Philippine Sea.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Malacañang assured the MOU would be released to the public after Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit.

Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo-- who also serves as presidential legal counsel-- clarified that the MOU only set guidelines on subject matters discussed by parties involved. It can be dismissed or walked away from should party feel it is detrimental to them.

"We have to be very sure that one, it's constitutionally firm. Number two, tayo ba makikinabang nang husto diyan? [Are we going to fully benefit here?]" Panelo said.

CNN Philippines' Xave Gregorio, Xianne Arcangel and Triciah Terada contributed to this report.