THE Philippines and China are now working on entering a joint oil exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), President Rodrigo Duterte has said.
Speaking to reporters after he delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, the President disclosed that the possible joint venture of the Philippines and China was about gas and oil.
“When they start to excavate the gas and oil, I tell you it’s going to be just like a joint venture,” Duterte said during a press conference.
He said, however, that there was no timeline on the project.
“Wala pa sila pero [They aren’t there yet but] we are into it there already, we are there already,” the President said.
“Nandoon na ‘yung atin pati ‘yung kanila [What’s ours is there already, as well as theirs]. They are talking, they are exploring,” he added.
In his two-hour SONA, Duterte did not talk much about the country’s maritime dispute with the communist country only that it would be discussed “sooner or later.”
The Philippines and China have rekindled their relations since Duterte came to power in June 2016.
Hoping to forge stronger economic ties, the Duterte administration has decided not to press Beijing on the dispute over the South China Sea despite the Philippines’ victory in 2016 before an international tribunal that recognized the country’s sovereign rights to explore and use the marine resources in the area.
China has continued to ignore the ruling and insisted on holding a “dialogue” with the Philippines in settling the dispute.