Territorial disputes can be set aside to pave way for Philippine, China exploration in South China Sea, Palace says
The Philippines and China could conduct joint exploration in South China Sea by setting aside their territorial disputes in the meantime, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque cited in particular Service Contract 72 in Reed Bank in South China Sea and was awarded to businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan's Forum Energy Plc.
He said recognition by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), which is being eyed to be Forum Energy's partner, of the Philippine ownership over the area is not needed.
"For me in (SC)72, there's no need for that (recognition). Because this joint exploration is by way of compromise that 'let us not fight in the meantime the issue of who has the sovereign rights over there', let's benefit first (from the area)," he said.
Roque said he did not see any problem if the Duterte administration would enter into such arrangement with another country.
The spokesman earlier said that SC 72 and SC 57 located in Calamian, northwest of Palawan, were the two areas being eyed for joint exploration between Filipino and Chinese companies.
But Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio has said before a Chinese firm could explore areas within the Philippine exclusive economic zone, it should recognize first that the Philippines owns the area.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including those within the 200 EEZ of the Philippines. Celerina Monte/DMS