MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he hopes that the joint oil and gas exploration with China could help resolve the maritime dispute over the South China Sea.
Duterte had welcomed China’s proposal to share oil resources in the West Philippine Sea, the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed waters, as long as Manila gets the bigger share, saying it is a “good start” in addressing the long-standing conflict over the resource-rich waterway.
“The [joint oil and gas exploration] proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope that it would graduate into something like, towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he said in a speech during the inauguration of a hybrid powerplant in Romblon.
The President earlier said he plans to pursue the sharing deal, as he is expected to bring up Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, when he flies to China later this month.
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The ruling made clear that the potentially oil-rich Recto (Reed) Bank is within the country’s EEZ and invalidated China’s expansive 9-dash line claim over nearly all of the waters.
Duterte noted that “any other adventures or expeditions in the exclusive economic zone will have a direct bearing on that arbitral ruling.”
“There has got to be something. You cannot just talk air… Let us talk about what is there, you (China) have to share with us,” he said.
Earlier this year, Duterte signed an executive order making it easier for the government to enter into oil exploration and development deals with third parties.