Senate bet Raffy Alunan open to joint exploration of West PH Sea

Pia Ranada
Senate bet Raffy Alunan open to joint exploration of West PH Sea

The former interior secretary says any joint exploration agreement with China must ensure the Philippines gets a 'lion's share' of profits

MANILA, Philippines – Former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III filed his certificate of candidacy for senator on Wednesday, October 17, under the Bagumbayan party.

This is not Alunan’s first time to run for senator. He had also gunned for the position in 2016 when he was endorsed by then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“We are working for a better Philippines. We are working for equal opportunity for all Flipinos. We are working for poverty reduction, for ecological security, and human security. We’re working for a strong defense,” he said in a press conference after his COC filing.

Alunan expressed support for the Duterte administration’s foreign policy which has come under fire for appearing to be too soft on China despite its aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.

“I think it’s a very smart policy. We are talking about an independent foreign policy. Everyone is equi-distant. We are friends to all and [there is] malice towards none,” he said.

He was asked if he supports the proposed joint exploration for natural resources in the West Philippine Sea. An agreement is expected to be signed between the Philippines and China during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in November.

Alunan said he is supportive of it as long as China “sets aside” its claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over the body of water.

“That must be very well understood, that their claim in terms of what they call indisputable sovereignty will be set aside for the purposes of human and ecological security because joint exploration can lead to energy security,” he said.

He also stressed that the Philippines must not get the short end of the stick in the profit-sharing scheme to be arrived at by Philippine or Chinese entities. Whatever scheme is agreed upon must be consistent with the 1987 Constitution.

“Profit-sharing must pass constitutional muster. Dapat tayo ang nanatili diyan sa (We who are in the) West Philippine Sea, we should get the lion’s share of profits,” he said. –


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at