Copies of China joint oil development MOU to be sent to Senate, House â Locsin
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. are the signatories of the memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development between the Philippines and China.
YouTube screengrab/RTVM

Copies of China joint oil development MOU to be sent to Senate, House — Locsin

( - November 23, 2018 - 10:38am

MANILA, Philippines — While the government has yet to release a copy of the agreement with China on oil and gas development, the Philippines' top diplomat said a copy would be sent to Congress by next week.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit earlier this week, the Philippines and China signed a memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he would have to ask for permission from Beijing first before releasing the document.

Justifying his position, Locsin explained that China signed the agreement that he drafted "in an act of trust."

"China had little time to propose amendments. So it is only polite to ask them — a quality no one is born with but can be bred into. Copies will be with the Senate and House by Monday," Locsin said on Twitter.

Locsin also showed a copy of the MOU during the television interview and read the text of the agreement.

"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," Locsin said.

Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, noted that the MOU is "still an agreement to seek an agreement."

The maritime expert said that the Department of Foreign Affairs appears to have altered China's "problematic" language and "insert[ed] safeguards."

"Beijing and Manila are no closer to an oil and gas deal that they were two years ago," Poling said in Twitter.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has clarified that the MOU signed days ago is not yet the proposed joint exploration 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 in a press conference Thursday. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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