SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon yesterday vowed to scrutinize the 29 agreements that the Duterte administration inked with China as he reminded Filipinos of the controversial Northrail Project and NBN-ZTE deals that proved costly on the part of the Philippines.
“The controversies involving these two multi-million dollar Philippine government undertakings with China are too recent to be forgotten,” Drilon said.
The aborted North Rail project ($421 million), which Drilon fiercely opposed for being grossly overpriced, and the controversial NBN-ZTE deal ($329 million) were two of the biggest deals the country signed with China.
“Taking into account the grossly disadvantageous contracts that the government had previously signed with China, it is imperative that we scrutinize these new deals to assess whether the agreements are consistent with the Constitution and our laws,” Drilon stressed.
The minority leader also called for absolute transparency, most particularly with regard to the exploration of the country’s natural resources.
“We will be vigilant in scrutinizing these agreements,” said Drilon, adding, “We are prepared to go to court on this.”
Drilon said that consistent with the Constitution, the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State.
He cited Section 2 of the Constitution which states that “All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State.”
The minority leader also stressed that “all agreements that may involve exploration of natural resources should comply with the nationality requirement of the Constitution.”
He said Section 2 of the Constitution is clear in that regard, which further states that “the State may directly undertake activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens.”