In this October 2018 photo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. share a light moment at the 12th ASEM Summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Teodoro Locsin Jr./Twitter
Locsin accepts China's 'superior' terms of reference for oil exploration
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - July 8, 2019 - 11:47am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat described Beijing's terms of reference on the proposed joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea as "superior" to those of Manila.

Sharing a newspaper clipping on the project, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the negotiations were going well.

"I ACCEPTED China's version of the Terms of Reference as superior to our own. Everything going well," Locsin tweeted Sunday.

In general, terms of reference define the purpose and structure of a project.

Locsin, however, clarified that there is no deadline for the framework of the proposed joint exploration between the Philippines and China.

This was in reaction to the statement of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who said the two countries are working to meet a November deadline.

"There is no one year deadline for specific project. Just best effort. There is also no deadline on the brilliant oil and gas (Memorandum of Understanding) I wrote (and) China (and the Philippines) signed," Locsin said.

MOU signed in November 2018

The DFA chief did not clarify whether this was the same document that Manila and Beijing signed last year.

In November 2018, the Philippines and China signed an MOU on oil and gas development during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country.

The government did not release the document, which Locsin earlier said he drafted himself.

In an interview with CNN Philippines in November, the top diplomat said he would have to ask permission first from China to release the document.

Locsin, however, read portions of the agreement during the television interview.

Contrary to his latest comment that there is no deadline, the excerpt that Locsin read on television in November indicated that the "two governments will endeavor to agree on cooperation arrangements within 12 months of this memorandum of agreement."

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