Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., right, and visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands during the latter's courtesy call in Davao city, southern Philippines Monday, Oct. 29, 2018.
AP/Manman Dejeto
Locsin to seek China's nod on release of oil development MOU
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) - November 22, 2018 - 3:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid calls for transparency on agreements made with China, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he cannot release the memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development between the Philippines and China for now.

"I'll release this when I get permission from China. Not that they are asking me to get permission but I think I owe ot to China to have trusted me implicitly to write this as I wanted it," Locsin told CNN Philippines' "The Source."

In the televisison interview, the DFA chief admitted that he wrote the draft of the agreement himself.

"I asked, 'Am I allowed to release this?' and the Palace said, 'Why are you asking us? You have custody of all the documents' so I need to think about this because when I wrote this draft, I did it myself," Locsin said.

He added that the Chinese government had its own proposal but later on allowed him to draft the agreement that would allow the two countries to move forward on how to explore and exploit resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Locsin also clarified that the supposed Chinese draft that the camp of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was not the one that the two governments signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit.

Reading the agreement on television, Locsin said the working mechanism under the deal would be an inter-governmental joint steering committee among the two governments.

Under the agreement, state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation was identified was the Chinese enterprise while the Philippines is yet to identify its own enterprise.

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

"This memorandum of understanding will be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of both governments. This memrandum of understanding does not create rights or obligations under international or domestic law," he added.

'Agreement to arrive at an agreement'

The DFA chief also confirmed the earlier remarks of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who described the deal as "a memorandum of understanding to agree to arrive at an agreement."

In a press briefing, Cusi clarified that there is no agreement yet on the proposed joint exploration between Manila and Beijing in the West Philippine Sea.

"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.

Asked for a timeline on the next steps to pursue the joint exploration, Cusi said the Philippine government would have to discuss that immediately with the Chinese side their position and come up with an agreement within a year.

ALFONSO CUSI CHINA JOINT EXPLORATION PHILIPPINES-CHINA TIES SOUTH CHINA SEA TEODORO LOCSIN JR. WEST PHILIPPINE SEA XI JINPING PHILIPPINE VISIT
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