The government will not drop or abandon the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea dispute in favor of pursuing a joint oil exploration project with China, Malacañang clarified yesterday.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo explained that the government will continue to negotiate “peacefully” with China about the terrorism conflict while pursuing other mutually beneficial interests such as the exploration deal.
“Setting aside doesn’t mean that we will abandon it. What the President means is that, as we have repeated said and as he has said too, the arbitral ruling is still subject to talks between the two countries. Negotiation is ongoing peacefully,” he said.
“But meanwhile, we focus without other concerns that may mutually benefit the two countries,” he added.
President Duterte earlier bared that Chinese President Xi Jinping promised the Philippines a bigger share in the planned oil venture in the South China Sea if it set asides the arbitral award that nullified China’s claims in the disputed area. Beijing’s position on a 60-40 oil venture with Manila was made known during the meeting of Duterte and Xi in Beijing last month.
Duterte claimed that the administration would “ignore” the arbitral ruling “to come up with an economic activity.” (Genalyn Kabiling)