Palace: No official policy on joint exploration with China


Posted at Dec 20 2016 02:53 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) ahead of their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China last October. Wu Hong, Reuters

Duterte comment on sharing oil with China not an official policy

MANILA - There is no official policy yet of a joint exploration between China and the Philippines to harness resources in the contested West Philippine Sea, Malacañang clarified Tuesday.

This, after President Duterte on Monday floated anew the idea of sharing oil from the strategic waterway with Beijing, despite an international arbitral ruling that says parts of the sea are in Manila's exclusive economic zone.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that Duterte's pronouncement is not yet a government policy.

"There's no government policy regarding that matter at this stage. I suppose, what he is referring to may be the possibility of business-to-business partnerships," Abella said.

The Duterte administration, he added, will not set aside July ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague which invalidated Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea.

"The government will continue to adhere to the ruling because these are our properties, technically."

Duterte has played down the arbitration, saying it would "take a back seat" during talks in China in October.

On Saturday, he said he would "set aside" the ruling and would "not impose anything on China".

Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay issued a statement on Monday explaining that "revitalizing" ties with China was one of Duterte's priorities and the government had been working to build "confidence and trust" with China.

Duterte said in a speech later on Monday that "some day" he would have to bring up the issue of the ruling with China but not now. Instead, he raised the possibility of sharing any resources in disputed area.

-- With a report from Reuters