Senate consensus on PH-China WPS exploration deal not needed

MANILA There is no need at this time for the Senate to review the Philippines' recently-signed agreement with China on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.

Guevarra stressed the Memorandum of Understanding signed during the recent state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping does not require concurrence of the Senate under the 1987 Constitution.

"It's not a treaty, and therefore does not require any Senate concurrence or review," the DOJ told reporters following concerns raised by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto who called for a review of the MOU.

"There are no sovereignty issues whatsoever as the MOU merely expresses a mutual desire to agree on specific cooperation arrangements within 12 months," he said.

Guevarra explained the agreement expressly stated that it "shall be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of the two governments and does not give rise to any rights or obligations under international or domestic law."

"It's just an MOU, it's non-committal, non-obligatory, and non-binding from a legal standpoint. It's a mere expression of mutual desires," he added.

The Chinese government has identified China National Offshore Oil Corporation as the Chinese enterprise for each working group, while the Philippines has designated the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation as the Philippine enterprise.

The MOU said the "two governments will endeavor to agree on the cooperation arrangements within 12 months."

It also provides that the "Memorandum of Understanding does not create rights or obligations under international or domestic law." (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency