Sotto backs PH-China exploration deal: ‘It’s about time’
It’s about time the Philippines forged a joint exploration deal with China, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said Wednesday.
Sotto made this remark as he brushed aside criticisms on the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development that Manila and Beijing signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Philippines.
“It’s about time that we did this. Napakatagal nang panahon na dapat pinag-isipang gawin ‘yan ng mga dating gobyerno,” he said in an interview at the Senate.
Critics, he said, should refrain from speculating, especially if they have not seen the details of the deal yet.
Unlike others, Sotto said he was privy to the proposed 60-40 sharing deal that would favor the Philippines.
“I just can’t disclose where and how but I’m privy to a proposal that was agreed upon by the President and that there are already talks with China. And more or less, it seems to be positive…,” he said.
Under the proposed joint exploration deal, according to Sotto, 60 percent would go to the Philippines while only 40 percent would go to China.
The terms, he noted, seemed to be “acceptable” for both parties.
Sotto could not say, however, if the proposed joint exploration and the MOU are one and the same. He said he has not yet seen the contents of the MOU signed Tuesday in Malacañang.
Asked about the target date of the joint exploration, the Senate leader said he is hoping it could start next year.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed because that’s the only way na talagang solve na ang problema natin sa langis, sa petrolyo at ang ekonomiya natin siguradong boom,” he said.
But what if the joint exploration would later turn out bad for the country?
“Eh ‘di withdraw. Napakadali,” Sotto said.
“Mahirap pumasok, madaling umalis,” he also pointed out. /kga