Joint exploration with China is co-ownership, says Duterte
Call it “co-ownership,” President Rodrigo Duterte said of China’s offer of “joint exploration” of the resources in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.
It’s better than going to war, Mr. Duterte said on Wednesday in a speech during the inauguration of the Bahay Pag-asa housing site in Marawi City.
The President, who has been criticized for being too soft on China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ), said he had no desire to enter into a battle that could result in the “massacre” of Filipino soldiers.
“It’s like co-ownership. It’s like the two of us would own that,” the President said of China’s offer of a joint venture.
Mr. Duterte’s idea of a joint exploration with China has been met with concern, with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warning that this was against the Constitution, which states that only the Philippines can enjoy and exploit its EEZ, as this forms part of its national territory.
The President recalled that Chinese President Xi Jinping had warned that “there would be trouble” if the Philippines insisted on its plan to drill for oil in Spratly Islands. —Leah B. Salaver
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