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Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to advise Filipino service contractors against entering into joint venture agreements with China-owned companies in their oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“Unless China honors our victory over our Exclusive Economic Zone in the WPS, there can be no genuine joint venture. 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 senator said.

As soon as President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the moratorium on oil exploration in the disputed waters last month, Filipino company PXP Energy started joint venture discussions with China National Offshore Oil Corporation, one of the largest national oil companies owned by the People’s Republic of China.

Hontiveros recalled that in 2011, a survey ship by PXP Energy was harassed by Chinese boats in resource-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?” she said.

“Kaya ko din hinihingi sa DOE o sa Senate Committee on Energy ang memorandum of understanding (MOU) natin with China. Dapat mabusisi ito at baka tayo pala ang dehado,” the senator added.

Hontiveros stressed that the wealth of gas and oil in Recto Bank alone must urge the DOE to claim it unilaterally.

According to the agency’s own study, Recto Bank can provide natural gas worth an estimated US$ 19.9 billion as well as oil worth US$ 2.1 billion.

Experts have also said that the reserves at Recto Bank alone can supply the Philippines natural gas and oil for as long as a century.

“We, in the Senate, are ensuring that our national budget for 2021 is robust enough to usher the country into recovery,” Hontiveros said.

“Hindi din maikakaila na ikalalakas din ng ating ekonomiya ang mabibigay na yaman ng WPS. Kaya dapat natin itong protektahan, alagaan, at angkinin. Hindi lang dahil kailangan natin ito, kundi dahil karapatan natin ito,” she said.

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