MANILAAs the world crude prices hit above USD80 per barrel, MalacaAang on Tuesday expressed hope that the joint exploration deal for oil and gas reserves in the disputed West Philippine Sea will be finally signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit in Manila next month.
We're doing all we can to make sure that when President Xi comes here, we can sign the joint exploration na magsimula na tayo na maghanap ng natural gas at langis at sa ganun po magkaroon na tayo ng energy security (that we should start searching for natural gas and oil so that we can have energy security), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Last August, the Department of Budget and Management announced that Xi is set to visit the Philippines in November as a follow-up to the high-level economic meetings conducted by the two countries' economic and infrastructure managers in Beijing.
Roque described the joint exploration as the most important agreement that the Philippines and China are hoping to achieve during Xi's visit, to reduce the country's dependence on imported fuel products.
Of course, (ito) ang pinakaimportanteng agreement dahil nga sa pagtaas ng preso ng langis na nagdadahilan sa pagtaas ng lahat (Of course, it's the most important agreement because of the high prices of oil which triggered the increase of prices of everything), Roque said.
Alam naman po (natin na) lahat tayo naaapektuhan dyan pero hanggang makakuha po tayo ng langis ay talagang wala tayo magawa dahil iniaangkat natin ang langis (You know all of us are affected but unless we get oil, we can really do nothing because we import oil), he added.
Roque said initial research and studies show that oil and gas reserves can be found in the disputed WPS particularly in the so-called Service Contract 72 (Recto Bank).
So ito po ang naging malinaw: kinakailangan na po nating isulong ang joint exploration. Isantabi natin ang hidwaan dahil according to the preliminary studies, meron pong laman ang SC 72 (So it becomes clear, we need to push the joint exploration, set aside conflict because according to the preliminary studies, the SC 72 has oil and gas reserves), he said.
Roque said an executive agreement for joint exploration in the WPS is crucial since the supply of Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power project is projected to last only until 2029.
So we're hoping that by 2027, production there at SC 72 will already start, he said.
China has reportedly expressed willingness to enter into a 60-40 joint exploration deal in favor of the Philippines.
Aside from Recto Bank, Service Contract 57 or Calamian is also being considered as areas of possible joint exploration.
Meanwhile, Roque assured that the government has been doing its best to bring down the prices of basic commodities.
So ang assurance natin, pagdating at least sa pagkain, eh sinisiguro natin na lahat ay ginagawa para mapababa dahil wala talaga tayong solusyon sa pagtaas ng presyo po ng krudo at gasolina sa pandaigdigang merkado (Our assurance is we're doing everything to bring down prices, at least of food, because we have no really solution to the high prices of crude and gasoline in the world market), he said.
He said the government has implemented several measures including importation of more rice as well as chicken and pork to bring down the prices of food.
Roque said if the crude prices in the world market will stay above USD80 per barrel for three months in a row, the excise taxes on fuel might be suspended under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency