By Pia Lee-Brago
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will not lose even a “single inch” of territory to China if ever it proceeds with its joint exploration deal with the Asian giant, which is claiming almost the entire South China Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano gave the assurance in a press briefing yesterday, saying any agreement would be in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the Philippines.
Cayetano said China has been consistent in its position on joint exploration since 1986 and that it is the Philippines which has been vacillating.
“It’s we who can’t make up our mind because of the different administrations and because our Constitution at that time was new,” he said.
As he had discussed with President Duterte, Cayetano said future deals should be more beneficial to the Philippines than the agreement on Malampaya development.
“I pointed to Malampaya so despite the constitutional provision that only Filipinos should benefit, there was a joint venture for Malampaya and this was approved by the Supreme Court,” Cayetano said without elaborating.
He said a joint venture is complicated as it has to be commercially and economically viable and the standard industry sharing has to be in conformity with the Constitution.
“Will we get there? We sincerely hope so. That’s one of my mandates. That’s an order from the President,” he said.
In an event on Tuesday hosted by Manila for visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Cayetano cited the Malampaya project as a model for joint exploration and development projects with foreign entities.
Wang called joint development “full of political wisdom” that could be applied in the South China Sea.
Cayetano noted that talks on joint development with China began in 1986 between then president Corazon Aquino and then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
Wang warned unilateral development “might lead to tensions.”
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