By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday chided President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly failing to assert the country’s sovereignty and the Constitution after he signed a framework agreement with China on joint maritime oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Hontiveros made the statement after a copy of the agreement was leaked to the media.
“Dehadong-dehado ang Pilipinas sa kasunduan (Clearly, the Philippines is at the losing end of the agreement). If the leaked copy of the agreement is proven authentic, President Duterte signed a document that did not assert our Constitution and sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea against China’s discredited nine-dash line, which lays claim to every shoal, reef and islet in the region,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros decried the absence of the 60-40 equity rule in the agreement as required by the 1987 Constitution.
She also hit the confidentiality clause of the agreement, which states that any document, information or data concerning the joint exploration should be kept confidential.
The lady senator also pointed to the dispute settlement provision of the agreement which she said favors so-called friendly consultations instead of arbitration and other multilateral approaches.
Hontiveros called on Malacanang to divulge the full details of the agreement together with 28 other agreements signed by the Philippine government with China during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country.
“The people need to scrutinize all these documents. We need to know whether or not these agreements are compatible with our sovereign and territorial interests and in full compliance with our international obligations, particularly the arbitral tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea,” she said.
“The Senate must lead this initiative given that it has material interest in ensuring that the foreign policy adopted by the Executive is in the best interest of Filipino citizens,” she added.