Palace eyes joint exploration deal with China in disputed waters between now and Xi's visit to Philippines
The Philippines and China may enter into a joint exploration agreement in the South China Sea anytime between now until the visit in the country by Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year, Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that during the command conference in Malacanang early this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano made the report on the Philippine position on the West Philippine Sea.
Asked if during the meeting, there was a decision to lift the moratorium to conduct exploration in the country's claimed area in the South China Sea, Roque said there was no decision yet.
"But of course, part of the report was we are moving towards a bilateral agreement would enable the joint exploration to happen," he said.
Further pressed as to when the deal could be forged between the Philippines and China to conduct joint exploration, the spokesman said, "No time frame. But of course, because of the impending visit of President Xi, I would say that it is anytime between now and the visit of President Xi. But it was not expressly stated as such."
The government has said that in any exploration with China in the South China Sea, the sharing should be 60-40 in favor of Manila as provided in the Constitution.
Cayetano said Xi would visit the Philippines later this year following President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated invitation to him.
Since he assumed office, Duterte had visited China thrice.
"So he was looking forward to visiting the Philippines. And I remember in China, the president even invited him not just to come to the Philippines, but to come to his house and have dinner in his house in Davao," Roque said. Celerina Monte/DMS