PHL-Israel deal on energy exploration still under study

The energy exploration agreement, which was supposed to be signed between the Philippine government and Israeli oil firm Ratio Petroleum Limited, is still under study at the Office of the President, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the signing of the deal did not push through during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s visit to Israel because there were constitutional requirements that have yet to be complied with.

He said it is also a requirement for the agreement to be “in writing and signed by the President and reported to the Congress.”

Despite having to comply with constitutional requirements, Roque described the agreement as “an agreement in principle.”

“Hindi po napirmahan (It was not signed), it is still for study of the Office of the President, but it is an agreement in principle, but the requirement is it has to be in writing signed by the President and reported to Congress,” Roque said.

Asked when the deal is expected to be signed, Roque replied, “As soon as possible.”

“Sa lalong mabilis na panahon po (As soon as possible). (Energy) Sec. (Alfonso) Cusi was there, the only reason he went there was to focus on this negotiation,” Roque said.

Cusi is in charge of preparations for the signing of the agreement.

On Sept. 4, Roque said the Philippine government is scheduled to sign an agreement with Israeli oil firm Ratio Petroleum Limited, which will cover energy exploration in Palawan.

Roque said the foreign investor will be helping the Philippines explore for energy “in an effort to provide energy security.”

Roque did not give further details but said that the franchise will be an area somewhere in the east of Palawan.

Duterte was in Israel from Sept. 2 to 5, making him the first Filipino leader to travel to Israel upon the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.