Philippine envoy sees no deal on joint exploration with China
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana on Monday said there will be no signed agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding joint exploration during their bilateral meeting at the sidelines of Boao forum for Asia in China .
Duterte left Monday for the Boao Forum for Asia which will be held Monday and Tuesday.
In a press briefing at Vienna Classic Hotel in Bo’ao, Hainan, Sta. Romana said: There will be no agreement signed this time on the joint exploration."
He said talks are still ongoing and both sides are looking for "suitable legal framework" that will be accepted by the two countries.
"The Philippine side is aware of certain parameters, you know, we have to be --- it has to be within our Constitutional requirements and our legal requirements and the Chinese also have their own parameters," he said.
He said the administration is hoping to achieve an agreement within couple of months since there is already a political willingness on both sides.
Last March, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said two areas in South China Sea are being eyed for possible joint exploration between Filipino and Chinese companies.
He said the two countries can enter an agreement without violating the Constitution and other domestic laws.
Duterte, according to Sta. Romana will focus on improving bilateral relations with China and to further seek deeper understanding with Xi.
Some of the expected agreement during the bilateral meeting is the loan agreement on the Chico Dam Project and agreement to hire more Filipino English teachers.
"And there are also agreements to basically, to improve the groundwork for more exchanges in the future," he said.
"The final list will be known soon because as of now, actually, there are some minor details that we’re still sorting out. But we’ll expect there are a couple of agreements to be signed," he added.
During the forum, Sta. Romana said there will be a special panel on the South China Sea issue.
"It is not the focus of the forum itself but it is an annual, it’s a topic every year. Again, it’s how to discuss the issue and to look for ways of possible solution, areas of cooperation once solutions have been pursued," he explained.
He said Duterte will concentrate on how to maintain peace and stability in the region, the importance of dialogue and using diplomacy in order to achieve a peaceful solution to long-standing problems while seeking solutions to solve the territorial claims and maritime disputes.
"But you can expect that the president will review the state of bilateral relations and he’s… he will be ready to discuss, you know, not only the challenges, which would include the disputes, but also, beyond that, the larger picture of how to further push forward the areas of cooperation with China," he said.
He added the Philippine policy towards the South China Sea disputes or the West Philippine Sea dispute is basically like a two-track policy. Ella Dionisio/DMS