Duterte-Xi verbal fishing deal still legally binding: Palace

MANILA -The verbal fishing deal made between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow Chinese nationals to fish within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is still legally binding, MalacaAang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark a week after Duterte bared that he had an agreement with Xi to allow Chinese to fish within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile EEZ if China allowed Filipinos to fish in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal during their first bilateral meeting in October 2016.

In an interview at cable ANC television, Panelo described the agreement as an informal agreement other than documented.

Panelo, in a Palace briefing on Monday, said the agreement was likely verbal but it was still legally binding.

Kahit sa batas, kahit na verbal eh valid and binding iyon basta mayroong mutual consent ang dalawang partido. Kaya nga agreement eh(Even in the law, even if it's verbal, it's valid and binding as long as there is mutual consent from the two parties. That's why it's an agreement), said Panelo, also the Presidential Chief Legal Counsel.

Asked if he believed Xi would hold on to his end of the deal, Panelo noted that there have yet to be reports of Chinese nationals fishing in the Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea.

Eh sa ngayon hindi naman niya ginagalaw ang Reed Bank, 'di ba? Gaya ng pangako niya (Now, they're not fishing in the Reed Bank, right? Just as he promised), Panelo said.

Following calls by members of party-list group Bayan Muna for MalacaAang to present the complete text of the supposed fishing deal between Duterte and Xi, Panelo said the Palace has long bared the existence of the agreement on several occasions.

Kahit ako, sinasabi ko na iyan. Nagkakaroon ng usapan kaya nga okay na doon sa Scarborough eh (I have even mentioned that. There was an agreement that's why our fishermen are now allowed at the Scarborough), Panelo said.

Oil exploration

Panelo, meanwhile, bared that the Philippines is willing to hold bilateral meetings with China on the proposed joint oil exploration in the South China Sea.

Duterte earlier suggested a 60-40 sharing arrangement on the joint oil exploration.

Although the chief executive bared that China may disagree on a 60-40 sharing deal of resources, Panelo believed that the two countries could still talk it out.

Lahat naman 'yan puwedeng pag-usapan (because all of that can be discussed), Panelo said.

Panelo pointed out that the reason why joint ventures were necessary is because the Philippines lacks capacity to do it alone.

Unang-una, wala tayong resources (First of all, we don't have resources) the reason why we need joint ventures and joint agreements with other countries is because wala tayong kapasidad (we don't have the capacity), he added.

Duterte earlier bared that Xi warned of trouble after the Filipino leader mentioned his plan to dig for oil in the disputed waters. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency