By Junex Doronio
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu – Stressing a constitutional provision that entities involved in the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources through co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements must be at least 60% Filipino-owned, Partido Reporma presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has expressed willingness to enter into joint exploration with China and other countries in the West Philippine Sea.
At the same time, the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief underscored the need for a “balance of power” in the WPS, saying the Philippines should utilize the defense treaties and military agreements with the United States, Australia, Japan, and other countries.
“If they will adhere to the 60-40 provision of the Constitution when it comes to joint ventures then I’m all for it. If not maybe we should go back and review our security situation,” Lacson said in a virtual forum organized by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines.
He pointed out that foreign investors should follow the constitutional provision of the 60-40 sharing in favor of the Philippines.
“If it’s 60-40 it only shows we own those islands. We have sovereign rights over these areas,” Lacson said.
In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he was amenable to a 60-40 sharing in favor of the Philippines on the joint exploration scheme.
Lacson also noted the “military weakness” of the Phillippines compared to China and he called for a “balance of power” in the disputed region.
“When I say balance of power, we should rely on other countries as militarily strong as China. We have a mutual defense treaty with the United States and I think that is a potent weapon in our arsenal yet untapped. We have bilateral agreements with Australia, with Japan, with other countries,” he said.
He noted that even the European Union had expressed willingness to patrol the area “because they have their own interests because after all foreign policy is always anchored on national interest.”
“So we should seize the opportunity that other countries are also interested in securing the area,” Lacson said. (ai/mtvn)