THE Philippines expects to sign a Palawan oil exploration agreement with Israel’s Ratio Petroleum Energy Ltd during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s visit, Malacañang said.
“We are hoping to sign an exploration agreement… with Ratio Petroleum Ltd and this is in connection with round number five,” Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at a briefing in Israel on Tuesday, referring to the Philippine Energy Contracting Round-5 (PECR-5).
Mr. Roque said the proposed exploration area is east of Palawan.
Reuters reported that the company in 2015 was one of a number of foreign firms to be awarded an exploration deal. Ratio won the so-called East Palawan block, a 416,000-hectare oil and gas prospect off Palawan.
It said the award was delayed due to legal issues involving a previous exploration contract covering that block.
Mr. Duterte was set to meet with the private sector at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, where he was expected to witness the signing of the agreements between Israeli companies and the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
One of the prospective attendees, NUFiltration Ltd, told the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a letter that is “not willing to participate” in the event, citing Mr. Duterte’s unacceptable behavior, CEO Mino Negrin said.
Mr. Negrin said in his letter that Mr. Duterte “compared himself to Hitler” in a way that “cannot be accepted by the Jewish people.”
Sought for comment, Mr. Roque said: “That’s truly regrettable, because we think the Philippines is one of the best investment destinations. But we will see later, it will be standing room only for the business forum. We will miss those who will not attend but I’m sure interest amongst investors to invest in the Philippines remains at an all-time high.”
As for the signing of arms deals, Mr. Roque said: “I cannot confirm until it actually happens, because it’s not in the schedule.” — Arjay L. Balinbin