MANILA – Malacañang said it has no plans of setting aside the arbitral victory for the planned joint oil and gas exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the arbitral ruling was subject to future talks even as the Philippines and China will forge ahead with other points of cooperation like the joint exploration.
“He did not say that the Philippines will drop the claim. He said the arbitral ruling is still subject to peaceful talks – iyon ang ibig sabihin noon. In other words, impasse pa eh kaya hayaan mo muna silang mag-usap,” Panelo added.
“So let’s talk about other things like this joint exploration,” Panelo said. “As we have always said, the relationship between the two countries is not measured by the conflict in the West Philippine Sea alone.”
Duterte earlier this week said Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the Philippines a majority stake in the joint exploration if Manila would set aside the 2016 arbitral award.
He added the issue on the disputed area was part of the ruling “which we will ignore to come up with an economic activity.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs allayed the fears of many saying the planned joint oil and gas exploration will not compromise the competing claims of both countries in the West Philippine Sea.
“The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague was final and binding,” said DFA secretary Teodoro Locsin./PN