MANILA, Philippines – The oil and gas deal with China in the West Philippine Sea is a “victory” for the Asian economic giant that has been “bullying” the Philippines, said Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano.
The opposition senatorial aspirant said in a #TheLeaderIWant interview with Rappler on Thursday, November 22, that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea undermines the Philippines’ victory in the Hague.
“Unang-una, the fact that we have recognized China in sharing with [them] our own resources in our own waters is already a victory on the part of China. Kahit na hindi matuloy ang actual driling ng gas and oil, ang China panalo na dito because we acknowledged them sa sarili nating karagatan,” said Alejano.
(First of all, the fact that we have recognized China in sharing with them our own resources in our own waters is already a victory on the part of China. Even if the actual driling for gas and oil won't push through, China still wins because we acknowledged them in our own waters.)
“The fact that we, the Philippines, tayo ang nagrecognize sa kanila, na tayo dapat ang unang tatayo [laban sa kanila], it weakens our position,” he added.
(The fact that we, the Philippines, recognized them when we should have been the first ones to stand up to China, it weakens our position.)
In JUly 2016, the Philippines won a historic case against China at a Hague tribunal, which upheld the Philippines' rights over the West Philippine Sea. President Rodrigo Duterte, however, chose to set aside this ruling to gain loans and grants from Beijing.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit to the Philippines, the two countries signed a total of 29 bilateral agreements, including the controversial MOU on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea. (READ: A big neighbor comes to visit: Highlights of Xi’s PH trip)
An exclusive Rappler report published on Wednesday, November 21, said the MOU creates a body to study how the Philippines and China can pursue joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said “forces” in the Philippine government, not Duterte, pushed for the oil and gas deal with China.
"I think it’s somewhat ironic to, you now receive the President of a country that is claiming our waters. Ikaw na nga ‘yong binully, ikaw na ‘yong binugbog, tinatanggap mo ngayon sa Pilipinas (You were the one bullied and beaten up, but the Philippines still welcomed),” said Alejano, who has long been warning against Duterte’s pivot to China.
Alejao said the oil and gas development deal with China is a threat to Filipino fisherfolk and food security, among other threats. He cited the Chinese Coast Guard's restriction of the latter's access to fishing grounds in the Philippines' own territory in the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Alejano to Duterte: You're selling PH to China, you don't know patriotism)
“Kompetensiya ito sa pagkain ng mga Pilipino, dahil ang ating mga mangingisda na siyang nagpapakain sa mga Pilipino ay nalilimita ang kanilang pangingisda (This is competition for the food sources of Filipino, because the fishermen who provide food for Filipinos are being given restricted access to fishing), despite the pronouncement of this administration that our fishermen can now freely fish in the West Philippine Sea. I don’t agree with that,” said Alejano.
A television crew from GMA-7 was stopped by China from conducting interviews in the West Philippine Sea in early November, as the Chinese Coast Guard said the Filipinos cannot proceed "without the permission of China.” – Rappler.com