MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano vowed on Wednesday, July 26, that the proposed joint development with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) should adhere to Philippine laws if it pushes through.
"The parameters are simple: Any agreement has to be in conformity with the Constitution and our local laws," Cayetano said in a press conference on Wednesday.
"The Philippines will take a very conservative approach, meaning we will interpret the provisions of the Constitution to be restrictive and to be beneficial to the Filipino people," he added.
Cayetano made these remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte said in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, July 24, that Filipinos can soon expect joint exploration for oil in the West Philippine Sea.
Cayetano, however, said the Philippines and China "are still talking about principles" or framework of a possible agreement. "We're exploring if we can explore."
"So kumbaga sa mag-boyfriend, hindi pa 'yung on na tayo uli. Tinatanong lang, 'Kung magkikita ba tayo, may pag-asa ba?' Gano'n 'yung level pa lang," he said.
(In the case of boyfriend-girlfriend couples, it's not like, "We're together again." What we're only asking is, "If we will see each other, is there a chance?" We're still on that level.)
In a joint press conference with Cayetano on Tuesday, July 25, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also pushed for joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
Wang said pursuing this "is full of political wisdom." He added that it "might lead to tensions" if any country explores disputed waters on its own. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.