MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Wednesday said he is open to having joint oil explorations with China in the West Philippine Sea.
The Manila mayor, who is running for President in the 2022 elections, said profits from any oil found should be used to lower electricity prices, and strengthen the Philippines' maritime assets.
"If I can utilize those, I will do that. Prinoteksyonan ko interes ng Pilipino," he said in online forum Kapihan sa Manila Bay.
"We don't have an engineering facility to dig oil? Then we dig with them: private sectors in the country and private sectors in China," he said.
If the Philippines would hypothetically get 40 percent of the collected oil, Domagoso said 20 percent of the amount should be sold to local oil players to pull down power rates in the Philippines, while the other half should be sold elsewhere to fund the upgrade of the country's maritime vessels.
"I will sell [the oil] and build [the capabilities of the] Navy, the Coast Guard," he said.
"I will continue to build medium-range, medium-sized Navy, Coast Guard [assets] so we can protect whatever is left [of the West Philippine Sea]," he said.
Aside from beefing up the country's sea patrol vessels, reducing electricity rates is also a priority to make the Philippines more competitive, he said.
"Kapag nagmura kuryente sa atin, magiging competitive tayo," he said, noting that several investors prefer Malaysia and Vietnam where power prices are cheaper.
(If we can reduce the cost of electricity in our country, we will be more competitive.)
Under a Domagoso presidency, the Philippines would "join only things that will benefits us," the Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer claimed.
"We must fish in that area as Filipinos, undisturbed at hindi hinaharang, hindi pineperwisyo (without being barred, without being pestered)," he said.
Domagoso said doing business with China is different from surrendering the Philippines' rights in the West Philippines Sea, which the world's second largest economy is claiming as theirs.
"WPS is different with trade. Politics is different from economics," the presidential aspirant said.
"We must be guided by law and order. There is a ruling in Hague that favors the country... that includes the West Philippine Sea," he said.
"We have a paper. We won. We will continue to pursue that," he said.
Domagoso was referring to the 2016 Hague ruling that invalidated China's claims in the West Philippine Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte did not enforce the arbitral award during his term, allowing China to expand its military presence in the contested waters that fall within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.