MANILA, July 25 — The Philippines and China are optimistic on starting a proposed joint oil exploration project within the West Philippine Sea, as they set aside their differences over disputed waters.
“…We are praying that this generation under (Chinese) president Xi (Jinping) and under President (Rodrigo) Duterte will have the wisdom to find a way that these natural resources will benefit our people,” said Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano recalled that in 31 years of discussion about the proposed joint oil exploration project within the West Philippine Sea, “we have not found the wisdom to be able to push through to the next step.”
In 1986, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping proposed to the Philippines the idea of a joint development within the West Philippine Sea. Talks about the project began during the same year.
The DFA chief cited the Malampaya gas-to-power project as an example of how the Philippine Constitution allowed the exploration of natural resources despite the cooperation with some foreign corporation or foreign entities.
Cayetano held on Tuesday a joint press conference here with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi following the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that aimed to strengthen cooperation between the Philippine DFA and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For his part, visiting Minister Wang believes that joint development does not affect or involve respective independent legal systems.
“It is about the two sides, with consultation, come up with the common goals or enter into a kind of agreement to joint development,” he said.
Wang expressed hope the two countries could make the decision for joint development project, which he considered “full of political wisdom”.
“So that the goodwill embodied by Mr. Deng Xiaoping’s proposal 31 years ago could lead to fruition today and could benefit the people of both countries,” he added.
During his second State-of-the-Nation Address on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said the West Philippine Sea issue, along with federalism, must be tackled “sooner or later.”
President Duterte believed that the country’s improved relations with China have given the Philippines a better leverage over the negotiation on the West Philippine Sea.
The Chief Executive, in his press conference following the SONA, bared the possible oil and gas exploration joint venture project of the Philippines and China.