Pimentel: PH, China should be transparent on joint oil gas exploration in WPS

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said he would demand from both the Philippines and China to be 100 percent transparent if and when negotiations for joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) start.

"The purpose of transparency is for us to know if the agreement is compliant with our (1987) Constitution," said Pimentel, a former Senate President, in a statement on Thursday, January 5.

The chief fiscalizer in the 24-member Senate maintained that transparency is crucial for these talks to prosper, most especially when it involves Philippine rights over some parts of the West Philippine Sea.

"It is key to gain the support and confidence of the Filipino people and erase any doubts that the government is compromising and giving up our rights over the West Philippine Sea," Pimentel explained.

Under the Constitution, foreign companies shoulder 40 percent of the investment while their Philippine counterparts own up to 60 percent.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Beijing on Wednesday where the Chinese leader has offered to open talks on a joint gas and oil exploration deal with the Philippines, as he pledged to make relations with Manila a diplomatic priority.

During their meeting, Xi said the two countries should work together to become a stabilising force in the region.

It is Marcos’s first visit to China since he succeeded Duterte as president in June, although he and Xi met in Bangkok in November on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

The trip is seen as crucial to China’s efforts to stop a key member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations getting closer to the United States amid the heightened rivalry between Washington and Beijing.