A joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is open to all not only to China but also to other countries, said Malacañang on Thursday.
“We are open to broader options for partnerships,” Palace Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are not limiting ourselves to exclusive economic relationship,” he added.
The Palace official reiterated that the President is not rejecting any possible cooperation with foreign entities in exploring and extracting mineral and gas resources in the West Philippine Sea.
“Any venture, however, must be compliant with the Philippine Constitution and local laws, and have terms which protect the national interest and are beneficial to the Filipino people,” Abella added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, on the other hand, said that President Duterte has given a go signal to pursue joint exploration with China in the disputed waters. Cayetano also guaranteed that any exploration deal over the West Philippine Sea would cooperate with the Constitution.
After Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, he said in a press conference that there were already talks for possible joint exploration with China in the West PH Sea. The two countries have yet to come up with a target date of joint exploration.
Beijing has constantly refused to recognize the ruling despite the Philippines winning on its diplomatic protest over China’s expensive claims over the West Philippine Sea at the United Nations arbitral tribunal.