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Duterte: PHL to enter joint oil exploration project with China

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday revealed that the Philippine government could team up with China for a joint oil exploration project within the disputed maritime region.

Duterte, at his second State of the Nation Address, said the West Philippine Sea, along with federalism, would be discussed sooner or later. But he did not give details on these issues.

At his press conference following the SONA and his brief visit to the protesters outside the Batasang Pambansa complex, Duterte revealed that the possible joint venture of the Philippines and China was about gas and oil.

"When they start to excavate the gas and all. I tell you, it’s going to be just like a joint venture para pareho," he told reporters.

The President, however, could not provide a timetable on this possible project with China.

"Wala pa sila pero we are into it already. We are there already, may partner na. ‘Di ko lang masabi. Nandoon na ang atin pati kanila. They are talking and they are exploring," he said.

Duterte's statement echoed the statement of Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago "Chito" Sta. Romana back in January.

The Philippines won an arbitration case against China's nine-dash line claim virtually all over South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea when the Duterte administration was just a few days old.

Duterte, nonetheless, opted to pursue efforts to improve the country's relations with China as he visited the country twice.

"We have cultivated warmer relations with China through bilateral dialogues and other mechanisms, leading to easing of tensions between the two countries and improved negotiating environment on the West Philippine Sea," he said during the SONA.

In his speech, Duterte thanked Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua for helping the Philippines in its campaign to usher in the golden age of infrastructure in the country. — BAP, GMA News