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Cayetano on joint exploration: Resources are blessings from God

Philippines Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano lead the Philippine delegation in a bilateral meeting with China at the Shangri-La at The Fort in Taguig City. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — Asked about potentiial joint oil exploration with Beijing in the South China Sea, the Philippines' top diplomat said that natural resources should be enjoyed by everyone.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that the Philippines and China may conduct a "joint venture" in the disputed waters.

READ: Duterte: Joint gas exploration deal in disputed sea may be forged with China

During a press briefing after a bilateral meeting with China, Cayetano said that an "environment for dialogue" would lead to peace and stability in the region.

"As very spiritual people, we believe natural resources are blessings from God that should be enjoyed by His people and, from the start, President Duterte said that drugs and poverty is a lethal combination leading to disorder, chaos, insurgency and terrorism," Cayetano told reporters.

The Foreign Affairs secretary added that Duterte has aspired to reverse such a "vicious cycle" into a "virtuous cycle."

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The former senator continued: "Thus, the natural phase two of better relations here and of the environment of dialogue, peace and stability is seeking to be able to use those natural resources to benefit your people," he said.

Cayetano cited the Malampaya natural gas field in Palawan as an example of joint exploration of natural resources between the Philippines and foreign entities.

He also noted that the talks on joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea began in 1986 during the term of President Corazon Aquino. 

The Philippines, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also entered into the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking with China and Vietnam from 2005 to 2008.

"But in the 31 years of discussion, we have not found the wisdom to be able to push through to the next step and we are praying that this generation under [China] President Xi [Jinping] and under President Duterte will have the wisdom to find a way that these natural resources will benefit our people," Cayetano said.

Under Section 2, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution, the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the state.

"The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens," the Constitution read.

RELATED: ‘Joint exploration does not mean conceding SCS claims’

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