By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is amenable to the proposed 60-40 sharing arrangement between the Philippines and China in a joint exploration of resources in the South China Sea as long as Manila gets the bigger share.
The planned joint sea exploration will be among the topics Duterte will discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their upcoming meeting in Beijing at the end of the month.
“They have proposed a 60-40. Okay na ‘yan para sa akin. But that could be a later topic if we have time,” the President said in an interview with reporters at the Palace.
“Of course. Sixty – 60 in favor of our country,” said Duterte.
Duterte admitted that he is “most interested in the extraction of the natural resources” when he meets with Xi.
In 2018, the Philippines signed a pact with China to negotiate a possible oil and gas exploration in the future. Recently, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. said he has accepted China’s terms of reference on the “perfect” memorandum of understanding (MOU) on oil and gas exploration, and that China has acknowledged his receipt of acceptance.
The Palace has assured the public that any oil exploration deal with China would be constitutional and beneficial to the nation.
The President is expected to visit China later this month mainly to discuss the South China Sea issue with his Chinese counterpart.
This will be his fifth visit to China amid revitalized ties with the Asian giant at the start of his term in 2016.
Discussing the arbitral award that voided China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South, the joint oil exploration proposal will be high on Duterte’s agenda in the China trip.
“Once we have set the agenda, I’d talk first about jurisdiction, the COC, and the exploitation of the natural resources of my country since as far as I’m concerned, we own it. So that is my position. We still own what we are claiming,” Duterte said.