West Philippine Sea (File photo courtesy of PTV)

MANILA - Senator Robinhood Padilla filed a resolution, urging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to resume bilateral talks for cooperation on oil-gas development in the West Philippine Sea.

Padilla said on Thursday Senate Resolution 9 aims to address the problems caused by the rising prices of oil due to international circumstances like the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"Now therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to resume the bilateral talks with the People's Republic of China for the purposes of cooperation on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea," SR 9 read, citing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development between the Philippines and China on Nov. 20, 2018.

The Philippines, SR 9 added, requires a long-term strategy to resolve its oil dependency on foreign sources as the country is vulnerable to the negative effect of the increased oil prices.

"The parties further understand that the MOU shall not be prejudicial to 'respective legal positions' which 'does not create rights or obligations under international or domestic law' and as such, there is no derogation of the Philippines' assertion of its sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea," the resolution said.

Padilla said in the resolution that the execution of the MOU is a "valid exercise of the executive powers of the President" under Sec. 1, Art. VII of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, he said Sec. 2 Art. XII of the Constitution allows the Philippines to "directly undertake to or enter into co-production, joint venture or production-sharing agreements on petroleum and other mineral oils and all forces of potential energy."

"The new administration has the opportunity to resume the bilateral talks with the People's Republic of China (PRC) for purposes of cooperation in the WPS on gas and oil development without bargaining the sovereign rights of the Philippines on the disputed territories therein," Padilla said.

"In view of the gains obtained from the MOU where the GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines] and PRC cooperated on the terms provided therein on the gas and oil development in the WPS, the new administration can further explore these common interests of cooperation to resolve the country's oil dependency from foreign countries," he added.

Like Senators Grace Poe and Aquilino Pimentel III, Padilla also is amenable to the suspension of excise taxes on unleaded premium gas, regular gas, and diesel oil, to address the effects of rising oil prices.

Through Senate Bill 229, Padilla seeks to amend Section 148 of the National Internal Revenue Code, in which the excise tax for oil products will be automatically suspended if the average Dubai crude oil price based on the Mean of Platts Singapore will reach or exceed USD80 per barrel in three months. (PNA)