A “joint exploration of resources” in the West Philippines Sea seemed better than an armed conflict, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday.
“Ngayon offer nila joint exploration ‘di parang co-ownership. Parang dalawa tayong may-ari niyan. Eh ‘di mas maganda ‘yan kaysa away,” Duterte said in a speech before government troops in Marawi City.
The President reiterated that he once brought up with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Philippines would explore oil in the disputed sea.
“Sinabi ko, nandito ako, paalamin sa iyo na pupunta ako diyan sa Spratly kasi I will dig oil,” he said.
But he said Xi wanted Manila and Beijing to discuss the issue and warned of war if the Philippines would insist on its claim.
“Tapos sabi ng Chinese, si Xi Jinping, pag-usapan na lang natin. Sabi ko, ‘No kasi amin ‘yan.’ Sabi niya, ‘alam mo kasi baka magkagulo.’ ‘Yung pag gulo, ‘yan ang ibig sabihin niyan, giyera ‘yan. So sabi ko ‘Okay. Pwede ba natin pag-usapan balang araw, at least sa panahon ko?’” he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had earlier said that the Philippines was “aggressively” pursuing joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea with China.