MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte proposed to forge a “60-40” sharing deal with China on the two countries’ planned joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippine President made the proposal in a speech delivered on Thursday, April 26, at the 102nd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines in Davao City.
“Precisely I said, with the issue of the China Sea, leave it at that, it‟s geopolitics. Anyway, China has offered joint exploration and joint operation. And I said, maybe, we give you a better deal, 60-40,” said Duterte, earning him applause from the crowd.
He also called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “friend.” (READ: Duterte: ‘I need China’)
“You cannot go against anybody. You cannot fight there. But President Xi is a friend. We‟ll share with you,” said Duterte.
Earlier this month, both Duterte and Xi gave the “go signal” for their countries to craft a framework for joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines but is claimed by China.
Duterte agreed to joint exploration even if the Philippines won a Hague ruling in 2016 over China, affirming the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte, however, has since downplayed this victory in exchange for economic benefits from China.
The Philippine President had said “it’s important that our people see the benefit” of the relationship between Manila and Beijing.
Critics of the move have said that entering into a joint exploration with China would negate the Philippines’ historic, hard-won victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier said said the Philippine Constitution bans “joint development” within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (READ: [OPINION] Duterte’s China itch) – Rappler.com