The Kalayaan municipal council has expressed its opposition to a proposed joint oil and gas exploration project with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Councilor Maurice Phillip Alexis Albayda, who authored the approved resolution, said that the partnership would only give China an opportunity to further its claim in the WPS.

“Kapag natuloy ang joint exploration with China, it would pave the way for other ventures na sila lang ang magiging partner. It would also mean na pati sa consumption sa pag-address ng demand sa fuel, magkakaroon ng injustice. Imagine a billion people na population needs vs 110 million? May injustice. Doon pa lang, kahit na mismo sabihin natin na joint exploration yan, talo tayo, as they will be the co-priority consumers of the product of the exploration,” Albayda said.

The local lawmaker also pointed out that the government should revisit other laws like the oil deregulation act in order to lower the price of fuel before resorting to joint exploration.

“It would definitely affect the decrease, sa shipping palang. Pero if we will just look into joint exploration with PRC, ay di magiging assurance na magiging leverage natin yun. Pwede naman natin madecrease without resorting to joint exploration. Try revisiting the Oil Deregulation Act. Magkaroon ng investigation bakit ang taas ng fuel dito sa Palawan, bakit mababa sa ibang lugar. Kung kaya magkaroon ng random promo na P5 pesos off, why not make it a regular price,” Albayda said.

Albayda recalled the joint exploration that started the Malampaya gas project, where the province of Palawan failed to get its rightful share.

“Sa magiging kapakinabangan ng joint exploration, either or, neither nor, wala. It will just be another whammy for Malampaya in the province of Palawan. Parang nag give-way lang din tayo and somehow kikilalanin natin na may karapatan ang China sa ating karagatan kung ipagpapatuloy ang joint exploration,” Albayda added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier floated the idea of conducting joint exploration with China on the natural gas deposits in the West Philippine Sea, saying there have already been “initial and general discussions’ but have not yet progressed to “working-level talks”.