Still no PH-China exploration deal in West Philippine Sea – PH ambaassador
There will be no agreement to be signed between the Philippines and China on joint explorations in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) during the Boao Forum for Asia in China this week, an envoy said Monday.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said that he does not see the agreement being signed by Philippine and Chinese top officials during the forum, as talks are still ongoing.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte is currently heading to China, in a bid to advance the country’s interests in trade expansion and investments promotions at the Boao Forum for Asia.
“That is ongoing, the talks on joint exploration. There will be no agreement signed this time on the joint exploration,” Sta. Romana told reporters in Bo’ao, Hainan in China.
Sta. Romana said the Philippine and Chinese governments were still trying to find a suitable legal framework “acceptable to both sides”.
“The Philippine side is aware of certain parameters, you know, we have to be, it has to be within our Constitutional requirements and our legal requirements and the Chinese also have their own parameters,” Sta. Romana said.
The ambassador, however, said that there was political will on both sides to be able to move forward on the joint exploration agreement but it would not be at the Boao Forum.
“Actually there is a special panel on the South China Sea issue that will be conducted as part of the Boao Forum,” Sta. Romana said when asked if the sea dispute will be brought up in the forum.
“If you look at the program, there is a special — there’s a special panel on this on the 11th and there are representatives from the different Southeast Asian countries, mostly diplomats and academic experts,” he added. “It is not the focus of the forum itself but it is an annual, it’s a topic every year.”
The Philippines and China are negotiating to explore jointly two areas in Palawan within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ):
Service Contract 57, a project located in Calamian in northwest Palawan, and Service Contract 72, which covers Recto (Reed) Bank. (PNA)