President Rodrigo Duterte has given Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano the green light to pursue joint exploration with regional power China in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Cayetano confirmed this on Wednesday to House of Representatives (HOR) reporters during a press conference.
He stressed as if to assuage underlying concerns: “Walang mawawalang territory sa Pilipinas. Walang mawawalang sovereignty rights.”
“The instructions to us right now is to move ahead,” said Cayetano, who had a scheduled meeting that day with Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea Chairman, Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Belmonte is a former House Speaker.
“It’s a directive of the President and we need it because Malampaya will run out in hopefully, not less than a decade,” Cayetano said.
The DFA chief was referring to the offshore gas platform that supplies 40 percent of Luzon’s power need.
The largest hydrocarbon deposit ever discovered in the Philippines, Malampaya produces 146 billion cubic feet of gas every year. The fuel drives three of Luzon’s largest power plants based in Batangas.
Cayetano also bared that he has acted on Duterte’s directive by consulting with Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Cusi serves as vice chairman of ruling party PDP-Laban (The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan), which the popular Duterte chairs.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) I talked with the Secretary of Energy to have better coordination. I also asked for help because they have the technical expertise. But I’m confident that Secretary Cusi and his team, together with some of the people we will consult, some legal experts, will be able to come up with a doable or workable legal framework,” Cayetano said.