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Lawmaker says 60-40 joint sea exploration deal with China a ‘win-win’

Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza on Tuesday said he supports a 60-40 joint exploration agreement with China in the West Philippine Sea instead of going to war against the Asian superpower.

“We fully support and appreciate President Duterte’s plan to forge a 60-40 sharing agreement with China for the joint exploration of the [West Philippine Sea], rather than risk going to war with our superpower neighbor," Atienza said in a statement.

Atienza said that unlike the Benham Rise, which was declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as part of Philippine territory, islands in the West Philippine Sea are being contested.

He said territories in the disputed seas have "long-standing claims not just by the Philippines and China, but by a host of other countries as well, among them Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam."

"For any country to force its claim on these would mean war. Can we defend our claim against all other comers? The Benham Rise, on the other hand, is clearly and definitely ours, no ifs, no buts," Atienza said.

The former Manila mayor said the joint exploration in the disputed area is a "win-win" situation and will benefit both countries economically.

He said there is no point in listening to hot-headed and naysayers, pointing out that "emotionalism" is sometimes not the best move and cannot provide real and tangible benefits.

"Can they guarantee any beneficial effects if we go up against our superpower neighbor? Sayang lang if we don’t push through with this," Atienza said.

"Wala naman tayong pera pang-explore on our own. Eh wala nga tayo ni perang panglinis ng Pasig River. We fully support the President on this and we believe this is the best solution for everyone,” he added. —ALG, GMA News