By Elena Aben and MB Online
President Rodrigo Duterte said he is open to a joint exploration for energy between the Philippines and China in disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea despite not bringing this up during his state visit to China.
This, even as he stressed that he is not deviating from the July 16 U.N. tribunal ruling that favored the Philippines, which he said he would someday bring up with Beijing.
“Bakit naman ako maghanap ng away? If I send the Marines there, they’ll be wiped out in just one minute. It will be a disaster,” the president said in a speech in Malacañang on Monday, December 19.
“Kung gusto n’yo, let’s just develop what’s the oil there, hati-hati na lang tayo. Anuhin ko naman iyang dagat kung walang… What will I do with the Scarborough Shoal? Swim there everyday? For what? To send my soldiers there to die? Nakalutang lahat? Sumaryosep!” Duterte said.
During his state visit to China in October, Duterte ruled out discussions on possible joint exploration for energy in disputed maritime territories in the West Philippine Sea, saying that he has yet to get the consent of Congress on the matter.
He also told Chinese president Xi Jinping that there will be a day that they will have to take up the issue on the U.N. tribunal ruling.
“Not now because I am here as a visitor… but I will bring it up,” the president recalled telling his Chinese counterpart.
“Alam na niya, pati ang ambassador dito iyong Chinese. I will bring this up, someday… it will be during my time… I have this arbitral award, so I have to push it,” he added.
The president made the statement two days after he said he will “set aside” the tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines in the sea arbitration case.
“In the play of politics now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City last Saturday.
The chief executive likewise said that he will “not impose anything on China… because the politics here in Southeast Asia is changing.”
Yesterday, however, Malacañang clarified that Duterte is not renouncing the country’s claims.
In 2004, the Philippines, China and Vietnam once signed a joint marine seismic undertaking (JSMU) for the three countries’ state-owned oil companies to conduct exploration in the maritime area west of Palawan within Philippine territories. But the Philippine Congress questioned the legality of JSMU, particularly on how it would undermine the Philippines’ territorial integrity.
Tags: China, Duterte open to PH–China joint energy exploration in West PH Sea, joint energy exploration, joint exploration, Manila Bulletin, PH-China relations, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, territorial claims, territorial dispute, West Philippine Sea