MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he was open to a joint exploration of the South China Sea, as long as it is "fair" to the Philippines.
Duterte cited an agreement that one of his predecessors, Gloria Arroyo, struck with China and Vietnam for a joint study of potential oil and gas reserves.
"Let us see the wherewithal. Let us see first if we will gain something from it. It has to be fair. It has to be balanced,” Duterte told reporters.
The President was asked if he was open to joint exploration with China and Vietnam after it was raised by former speaker Jose De Venecia during a China-led economic forum in Beijing.
“If we can get something there with no hassle at all, why not?” said Duterte, who attended the Beijing meetings.
The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking under Arroyo, which was envisioned to help ease tension among claimants in the South China Sea, was eventually voided by the Supreme Court.
About 80 percent of the proposed area for the joint study was located within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines under former president Benigno Aquino, won an international arbitration case against China, but Duterte refused to flaunt this in favor of development aid and investment deals.