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Palace ensures PH gov’t will review joint exploration deal of South China Sea with China

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By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang assured that it will not matter if China drafts a joint deal to explore the disputed South China Sea with the Philippines because the government will make sure that the agreement will be carefully reviewed and evaluated.

China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, despite claims from Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

South China Sea
(AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“It doesn’t matter who drafted it. As far as we’re concerned, if you give us a draft then we will go over it,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panel in a press briefing in Malacanang Tuesday.

Panelo made the statement ahead of ChinesevPresident Xi Jinping’s arrival in Malacañang Tuesday where the Philippines and China are expected to seal agreements later in the evening.

“We have to see whether this is legal or not, whether it’s beneficial to us or not,” said Panelo, as he reacted to reports that China was unilaterally drafting a joint agreement that would lay the grounds for joint exploration of South China Sea by the Philippines and China.

Opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Pangilinan urged the Duterte government not to sign any deal that would come from Beijing, as it was a possible that the Philippines’ rights to exploit and develop the West Philippine Sea could be jeopardized.

“I said even if China drafts it, it has to go over us, we will have to review that,” he said, adding that he was not sure whether a deal for the joint exploration will indeed really be signed during Xi’s visit.

Earlier, Malacañang assured that governement contracts with foreigners will be scrutinized to make sure that these are constitutional.

“We assure that any agreement that we will enter into with a foreign government or entity would stand the judicial scrutiny of both countries and its constitutionality if challenged, would be upheld,” Panelo said.

Last month, the Philippines signed a joint exploration deal with Israel’s Ratio Oil. Duterte said he was hoping that the joint exploration could help ease the effects of inflation in the country.

Early this month, President Duterte said he would insist that the Philippines get a larger share than China of the oil that would be extracted in the disputed South China Sea.

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