Philippines, China MOU on oil development not treasonous, Palace says
Malacanang defended on Monday the deal between the Philippines and China on oil and gas development, which could be undertaken in the disputed South China Sea, saying it is not treasonous.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was reacting on the allegation of Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who said the memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development with China was a form of treason.
"Maybe he has not read the agreement signed. It’s just an agreement to agree on certain things. There is nothing there that will be a basis for any allegation of treason. Even the critics say there is nothing there," he said.
Under the MOU, which was signed during the state visit in Manila by Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, it said the two governments have decided "to negotiate on an accelerated basis arrangements to facilitate oil and gas exploration and exploitation in relevant maritime areas consistent with applicable rules of international law."
The Philippines and China will also establish an Inter-governmental Joint Steering Committee to be co-chaired by the foreign ministries and co-vice chaired by the energy ministries and one or more Inter-Entrepreneurial Working Group.
The committee will be responsible for negotiating and agreeing the cooperation arrangements and the maritime areas to which they will apply, and deciding the number of working groups to be established and for which part of the cooperation areas each working group is established.
The MOU also stated that China authorizes China National Offshore Oil Corporation as the Chinese enterprise for each working group. The Philippines, on the other hand, will authorize the enterprise(s) that has/have entered into a service contract with the Philippines with respect to the applicable working areas or, if there is no such enterprise for a particular working area, the Philippine National Oil Company - Exploration Corporation, as the Philippine enterprise(s) for the relevant working group.
"The two governments will endeavor to agree on the cooperation arrangements with 12 months of this Memorandum of Understanding," the MOU read.
The MOU does not create rights or obligations under the international or domestic law, it added.
Panelo described the MOU as an agreement to agree. "It's just a framework," he said.
Meanwhile, Panelo said an investigation has been ongoing regarding the incident at Panatag Shoal off Zambales involving GMA network reporter and his crew who were prevented by the Chinese Coast Guard from covering the area.
He said the Philippine government wants to know if China has the policy of not allowing mediamen in the disputed waters.
But he said the Duterte administration would not allow the Filipinos to be harassed.
"We will not allow any harassment wherever (the Filipinos) are, whether in our country or abroad," Panelo said. Celerina Monte/DMS