The Philippines and China convened the first meeting of Philippines-China Inter-Governmental Joint Steering Committee on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development on Monday in Beijing, China.
Philippines, China establish joint steering committee for oil and gas exploration
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - October 30, 2019 - 10:57am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and China had officially established a joint steering committee for the proposed joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the formation of the Philippines-China Inter-governmental Joint Steering Committee on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development in Beijing last Monday.

"The Committee had a candid, in-depth and friendly exchange on cooperation arrangements under the MOU and agreed to further push forward communication and coordination on oil and gas development, with a view to achieving progress in accordance with the MOU," the DFA said in a statement released Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo led the Philippine delegation while Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui led the Chinese side.

Officials from the respective foreign and energy ministries, as well as other relevant agencies, formed the delegations of both countries.

The steering committee was established in accordance with the MOU on cooperation on oil and gas development and the terms of reference that the Philippines and China previously signed.

The joint committee agreed to meet again in early 2020, according to the DFA. They have yet to determine the exact date and place of the next meeting.

The Chinese government earlier expressed willingness to be pragmatic and flexible in negotiating the proposed joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

Philippine Ambassador Chito Sto. Romana earlier said the plan was to get the framework ready so the steering committee could start the meetings.

"There will be protracted or at least intense negotiations. Legal experts will have to come in and see how they will phrase it in a way that will be acceptable to both sides," Sto. Romana said in August, noting that the agreement would have to be in accordance with domestic and international laws.

The Philippine government would still push through with the 60-40 sharing scheme with China, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said last week.

“(The) 60/40 (sharing scheme) is a desirable sharing, but it is not final. It could even go up to 61 or more. One percent is always substantial when you talk about such big investments,” Esperon said.

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