On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he sees nothing wrong with China’s proposal to share oil resources in the West Philippine Sea as long as Manila receives the larger share.
The president is planned to travel to China later this month— the fifth time since he took office in 2016—to discuss maritime problems with president Xi Jinping.
Duterte said he planned to follow the sharing agreement as he brought Manila’s arbitral win in 2016, which invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 decision in The Hague made it clear that the possibly oil-rich bank Recto (Reed) is within the West Philippine Sea, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country.
China does not acknowledge the decision, but instead has stepped up its militarization of the essential waterway.
In November 2018, during Xi’s state visit to the Philippines, the Philippines and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for oil and gas exploration. At the moment, the MOU was defined by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as an arrangement to agree.
Duterte signed an executive order earlier this year, making it simpler for the government to enter into oil exploration and third-party development deals.