MANILA, Philippines – The Pangilinan-led consortium will not forge a deal with foreign partners, including a Chinese one, if the other party will not respect the Philippine’s right over the disputed gas-rich Recto Bank off Palawan island.
This was highlighted by Manuel V. Pangilinan who had previous talks with officials of Chinese state oil firm China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) for a potential deal involving Forum Energy, which he chairs.
“One thing that we will not do is infringe on our sovereignty,” Pangilinan told reporters after the annual stockholders meeting of Philex Mining Corp, the parent firm of Forum Energy, on Wednesday, June 27.
The Philippines claims sovereign right over Recto Bank, which is estimated to hold the Philippines biggest gas deposit to date.
Since China is claiming the entire South China Sea area, including Recto Bank, a possible deal between the Filipino and Chinese companies was initially considered a commerical solution to a diplomatic and sovereign dispute.
“If we cannot resolve the sovereignty issue to the satisfaction of our government we are prepared to not proceed on the deposit [in Recto Bank]. And, as well, if the commercial terms are not acceptable to us and to our government, we will not proceed…So if the terms proposed are not acceptable to us or our government we will simply not proceed so we are not pushing the case recklessly. I want to assure everyone of that so we are not accused of being traitors to this country,” he said.
Pangilinan said he would defer to the Philippine government’s decision regarding a deal with CNOOC. “Before we send anything to the chinese side those inputs must be approved by the Philippine government,” he said.
“I think from time to time we share with them our thoughts… on the basic inputs. But we have not officially engaged the (Philippine) government in discussion until we are able to submit in written form the basic inputs. We are being extra careful with those inputs because governments are involved,” he said.
President Aquino has been clear that the territory belongs to the Philippines since it is only 80 nautical miles away from Palawan, while the nearest Chinese territory is 576 nautical miles away.
Pangilinan said he appreciated President Aquino’s statement of support earlier in the week for Forum’s efforts to partner with a foreign firm in Recto Bank.
Pangilinan said Forum Energy was still forming an agreement it hoped would be acceptable to the government. “We are not finished yet. We are taking care to insure that the basic inputs will be acceptable to the government.” – Rappler.com
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