MANILA, Philippines – Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte is willing to enter into a joint exploration for oil and gas in the Spratly Islands with China, provided that Beijing does not insist on its territorial claim over it.
Speaking before businessmen and entrepreneurs in the Go Negosyo Talks “Meet the Presidentiables Series” in Makati City, Duterte said talks over the disputed territory is going nowhere as the United States is insisting on a roundtable or multilateral discussion between claimants China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Duterte said the US position is being opposed by China who insists on bilateral talks with the other claimant nations. According to Duterte, the situation in the area has become dangerous as China has not stopped building structures in the disputed islands with the talks going nowhere.
“There are conflicting claims between the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Thailand and even Malaysia. This has created a very dangerous situation when China decided to build structures there. Ang problema nito is we want to talk about it and the United States is asking that it must be multilateral to include those with conflicting claims including faraway Australia and Japan. The United States is insisting na kung may paguusapan, it should be a round table for all of us. China does not want that. China wants to talk bilateral. This has created a hiatus. The talks are not moving and they are in still waters and China is adding structures day-to-day. Something has to be done,” he said.
Duterte said that the Spratly islands is within the territorial boundaries of the Philippines. According to Duterte, if elected president, he would convince China to engage in talks again with the predicate that the disputed islands belong to the Philippines.