PH has options on joint sea exploration, says Palace
We have options.
Manila is looking not just at Beijing for a joint exploration for energy in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said President Duterte was “open to possible cooperation with foreign entities” to explore for oil and minerals in the contested waters.
“We are open to broader options for partnerships,” Abella said in a statement.
“The President is open to possible cooperation with foreign entities in exploring and extracting mineral and gas resources in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
Abella said any venture must be compliant with the Constitution and local laws, and “have terms [that] protect the national interest and are beneficial to the Filipino people.”
When asked if the Philippines was considering a deal only with China or if it was open to deals with other claimants, Abella said without elaborating: “We have options.”
Pressed further, Abella said: “We are not limiting ourselves to exclusive economic relationships.”
China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, have competing claims in the South China Sea.
Last month, Mr. Duterte said his administration was in talks with a partner over joint drilling for natural resources within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea.
Mr. Duterte did not name the partner but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China was open to the idea of a joint venture with the Philippines for oil exploration in the South China Sea.
During the Arroyo administration, the government signed a Joint Maritime Seismic Undertaking with China and Vietnam to conduct joint seismic explorations as a prelude to possible commercial energy deals while sidestepping sensitive sovereignty issues.
That agreement covered islands within the Philippines’ EEZ that is guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
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