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Palace: West Philippine Sea joint venture will comply with Constitution

Philippine Marines on the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded Navy ship that serves as an outpost in the West Philippine Sea. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday assured the public that any joint venture that the country will enter into would be compliant with the Constitution and local laws.

This statement came days after President Rodrigo Duterte said that a joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims, may be possible between the Philippines and China.

"We will not give up an inch of our territory, and that any deal should have better terms favoring the Philippines," Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

During his State of the Nation Address last Monday, Duterte said that the sea row is an issue that has to be tackled sooner or later.

The president said that the joint exploration activities between the two countries would be similar to a "joint venture."

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

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“When they start to excavate the gas and all. I tell you, it’s going to be just like a joint venture. Para pareho," Duterte said in a press conference after his SONA.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that natural resources, such as oil in the West Philippine Sea, should be enjoyed by everyone.

"As very spiritual people, we believe natural resources are blessings from God that should be enjoyed by His people," Cayetano told reporters.

In a separate press briefing, the Philippines' top diplomat said that the country will not lose even a "single inch" of territory to China if it proceeds with a joint exploration deal.

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned "non-regional" forces he said are interfering in the South China Sea to stay away from the region.

During his official visit to Manila, Wang said that the improved relations between China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations are the key towards stability in the region.

"If there are still some non-regional forces or forces in the region that don't want to see stability in the South China Sea and they still want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, we need to stand together and say no to them together," Wang said.

RELATED: China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders

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