MOU on oil development with China an 'agreement to agree' — Cusi
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - November 22, 2018 - 2:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Thursday clarified that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on oil and gas development with China was just an agreement on how to cooperate in exploring resources in the West Philippine Sea.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Manila earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed the agreement.

Neither the Department of Foreign Affairs nor the Department of Energy has released a copy of the memorandum of understanding with China.

Cusi clarified that there is no agreement yet on the proposed joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea, where the two countries have overlapping claims.

"If you are referring to the MOU that was signed, that was memorandum of cooperation to explore ways on how we can harness the resources, indigenous resources at the West Philippine Sea," Cusi said in a press conference Thursday.

The Energy secretary added that there is no agreement yet on the proposed 60-40 sharing between the two countries.

The DFA and the DOE would have to talk with its Chinese counterparts first to further discuss on how to move forward in exploring resources in the contested area.

Locsin bares MOU in television interview

Locsin, on the other hand, has revealed the copy of the MOU in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source Thursday morning.

The DFA chief agreed on Cusi's description of the agreement as a "memorandum of understanding to agree to arrive at an agreement."

Locsin also clarified that the supposed Chinese draft which the camp of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV released was not the signed agreement.

He said he would have to ask permission from Beijing first before releasing the copy of the agreement to the public but he read the content of the deal in the interview.

"The two governments will endeavour to agree on cooperation arrangements, endeavor within 12 months of this memorandum of agreement," Locsin said.

"This memorandum of understanding, in all discussions, negotiations and activities of the two governments, other authorized enterprises under or pursuant to this memorandum of understanding will be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of both governments. This memorandum of understanding does not create rights or obligations under international or domestic law," he added.

Malacañang earlier promised that all documents in relation to Xi's visit would be released as soon as they are complete.

"We assure everyone that the government would release all pertinent information for public consumption once President Xi's visit has culminated, and as soon as the complete, proper, and correct documents become certified and available," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

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