President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan campaign rally in Victorias City Sports and Amusement Center, Negros Occidental on March 8, 2019.
King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo
MOU on joint exploration in West Philippine Sea may be part of Duterte-Xi talks
Alexis Romero ( - August 5, 2019 - 9:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea may be tackled during President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to China this month, Malacañang said Monday. 

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi previously said the Philippines and China are trying to craft a framework for the joint exploration in the disputed waters by November.  

READ: Locsin accepts China's 'superior' terms of reference for oil exploration

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., later on, said he has accepted China's version of the terms of reference, describing it as "superior" to that of the Philippines. The Philippines' top diplomat also claimed China's draft was "more faithful" than Manila's "verbose version." 

"We are waiting for the report of Secretary Locsin; It could be part of the discussion," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing when asked if the MOU on the joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea would be included in the agenda of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this month.

READ: What Cayetano missed in justifying South China Sea joint development

Duterte and Xi signed a memorandum of understanding on the proposed joint exploration last November. 

From the signing of the MOU, both nations have one year to finalize a framework to pursue joint oil and gas development in the area.

Cusi has said his agency is working on lifting the moratorium on exploration and drilling works in December 2014 and 2015.

COMMENTARY: Time for a new Philippine strategy toward China

Duterte is set to visit China for the fifth time this month to discuss bilateral issues with Xi and to watch the FIBA World Cup. 

Panelo was also mum about reports that China is eyeing to develop Fuga in Cagayan and Grande and Chiquita in Zambales into e economic and tourism zones as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative. 

"I’ve not heard anything from the National Security Adviser nor the National Defense Secretary," he said. 

READ: Duterte may discuss Recto Bank allision with Xi in 5th China visit

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