MANILA - A joint exploration between Filipino and Chinese companies in disputed waters is "likely to happen" as talks are "moving forward" under President Rodrigo Duterte, his spokesman said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, did not identify the companies involved. Such an agreement between private companies is allowed under Philippine law, he said.
"I know they are discussing. They are moving forward and it's likely to happen," Roque told ANC's Headstart.
"This will now actually entail joint exploration and possible exploitation of natural resources," he said.
The law also requires that Congress be informed should such an agreement be reached between a Filipino company and a foreign counterpart.
Under the government of Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, Manila's PXP Energy, then known as Philex Petroleum, discussed possible joint exploration with Beijing's China National Offshore Oil Corp.
The discussions, however, hit a snag after Aquino questioned the basis of China's claims before an international arbitration court, a case that Manila won shortly after he relinquished power to Duterte.
Duterte refused to flaunt the ruling, choosing instead to repair diplomatic and economic ties with Beijing as he shifted foreign policy away from Manila's traditional ally, Washington.