Sen. Risa Hontiveros
By Junex Doronio
APPARENTLY ASSERTING THE COUNTRY’S SOVEREIGNTY, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to advise Filipino service contractors against entering joint venture agreements with China-owned firms for oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
“Kailangan pati ang mga Pilipinong kumpanya na pinayagan nang mag-explore sa ating mga karagatan ay makiisa sa panawagan ng bansa na protektahan ang ating soberanya,” the opposition senator said.
In a statement, Hontiveros maintained that there could be no joint venture unless China honors the Philippines’ victory over the Exclusive Economic Zone in the contested waters.
In the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the tribunal invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line feature that virtually owns the entire body of water.
Hontiveros said that in October President Rodrigo Roa Duterte lifted the moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
After the moratorium was lifted, the senator noted that Filipino company PXP Energy started joint venture discussions with China National Offshore Oil Corporation, one China’s largest national oil companies.
In 2011, Chinese boats reportedly harassed a survey ship by PXP Energy—formerly known as PhilEx Petroleum Corporation in oil and gas-rich Recto Bank.
“We must not forget such incidents because China started this hostility in our own waters. What assurance can Beijing give that it will not do the same now?” Hontiveros asked.
“Kaya ko din hinihingi sa DOE o sa Senate Committee on Energy ang memorandum of understanding natin with China. Dapat mabusisi ito at baka tayo pala ang dehado,” Hontiveros pointed out.
It can be recalled, however, that last September 22, in his first-ever address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Duterte firmy stood on the Philippines’ legal victory at The Hague, Netherlands.
“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon,” Duterte told the world leaders at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
The President stressed: “We firmly reject attempts to undermine it.” (AI/MTVN)