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Gov’t defends proposed 60-40 arrangement for joint exploration of SCS

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By Genalyn Kabiling

The government defended the country’s proposed 60-40 arrangement for a joint exploration of the South China Sea with China, saying such sharing scheme is allowed by the Constitution.

MB FILE—Photographed through the window of a closed aircraft, an aerial view shows Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines on July 20, 2011. China protested a trip made by Filipino lawmakers to disputed areas in the South China Sea to assert the claim of the Philippines. Ethan Sun, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Manila, said the trip scheduled was ‘against the spirit’ of a code of conduct signed by claimants to the areas in 2002. The Spratlys, believed to be rich in oil, mineral and marine resources, are also claimed in whole or partly by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

MB FILE—Photographed through the window of a closed aircraft, an aerial view shows Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines on July 20, 2011. (EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured the public the country will get a bigger slice of the resources at 60 percent, while China would get the remaining 40 percent.

“Why 60-40 on the joint exploration? Because we’re following the specific provision in the Constitution that foreigners can participate on a 60-40 basis, meaning 60% Filipino and 40% foreign-owned,” Roque said during a press conference in Bukidnon.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently announced that the government was working on a framework on the Philippine-China exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

Cayetano said the draft framework, which is expected to be finished by August or September, would comply with the Constitution and follow the Malampaya project’s 60-40 sharing of revenues.

The Philippines and China are locked in a dispute over ownership of some islands in the South China Sea. The President however has refused to wage war with China over the territorial dispute and instead decided to pursue bilateral dialogue to manage the conflict.

The President also opted to enhance other areas of cooperation with China such as trade, investments and defense. Duterte also previously said he was amenable to the joint exploration with China.

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