PH-China oil exploration deal on SCS ‘equal or better’ than Malampaya

MANILA Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano assured that the Philippine government would ink a joint exploration deal with China that is "equal or better" than its contract in Malampaya.

"We're working on the details but ang masasabi ko lang sa publiko, pareho o mas maganda sa kontrata sa Malampaya. Para walang masabi ang kritiko (We're working on the details but what I can assure the public, it will be the same or better than the contract in Malampaya. That way critics won't find fault)," he said in a DZMM interview on Wednesday.

If Malampaya carries a 60-40 arrangement, Manila will not settle on a partnership less than 60 percent ownership, he added.

Cayetano also defended the government's move to pursue talks on joint exploration with China.

"Ang tanong ko nga, kukuha din naman tayo ng partner, ke-Indonesian, ke-taga-Saudi, Dutch, kukuha tayo ng partner sa pag-explore. Anong mawawala that we do it with our neighbors? (My question really is if we are to get a partner, whether it's from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, or the Dutch, we will eventually get a partner to explore. So what do we lose if we do it with our neighbors?)" he asked.

Cayetano has always cited the Malampaya project as an example of how the Philippine Constitution allowed the exploration of natural resources in partnership with foreign corporation or entities.

The USD4.5-billion Malampaya gas-to-power project is a joint undertaking of the Philippine national government and the private sector.

Cayetano has yet to give a specific timeline on a possible Philippines-China joint exploration, but said President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jinping had basically given a "go signal" for the drafting of a framework. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency