Joint exploration deals boon for the Philippines

Opinion Sideglance

The recent announcement by Malacanang that it is in the process of negotiating with China for joint exploration of the potential oil and gas reserves in the West Philippine Sea is a deal that would benefit the Philippines more than China.

This is for the simple reason that while we have our so called Exclusive Economic Zone  (EEZ) of 370 kilometers within the West Philippine Sea we are at present unable to fully explore and exploit the natural resources available in that zone. In all probability it will take the country, on its own, another ten years before it is able to fully utilize, using modern technology and facilities, the potential afforded by the said EEZ.

With China around the means to fully explore the potential oil and gas deposits within the country’s EEZ has become readily available and will surely benefit the Filipinos in the long run.

To those who protest and are against any such joint exploration deals with China then why not offer another alternative to the government, one that is even better than what Malacanang is trying to establish with China. If you cannot offer any alternative except to assail attempts by the government to better the lives of the Filipino people then try to just shut up.

At this time reality tells us that if China would want to explore any part of the country’s EEZ without informing the Philippine Government it could easily do so and nobody can stop them. That is the plain and simple truth of the situation.

The Philippines has been handed a golden opportunity to further develop its natural thru the possible exploration and utilization of the potential gas and oil deposits to be found within its EEZ.

Let us not squander away that opportunity. In fact the national government should try to capitalize on such proposals for joint exploration deals with China and obtain the biggest advantage it can wrangle from the agreement.

At this time Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has confirmed that what has been signed by the Philippines and China regarding the said joint exploration deal is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) that would establish a body or an “intergovernmental Joint Steering Committee” as well as one or more “interentrepreneurial working groups” that would worked on the arrival of an agreement for the said joint exploration deal.

Obviously the said deal will take a certain amount of time to accomplish but in the meantime both the Philippines and China seemed to have agreed in principle to partner with each other in the exploration and exploitation of a portion of the Western Philippine Sea that is considered as the EEZ of the country.

While there are no guarantees about the deal itself and on whether China will eventually make good on its promise to partner with the Philippines on the matter what is important is that the national government is able to achieve a diplomatic solution to a contentious issue with respect to the ever expanding influence of China in the Western Philippine Sea.