China prods PHL on West Philippine Sea joint energy exploration
PRESIDENT Duterte is mulling over how to move forward with the country’s 29 deals with China, especially the country’s agreement on energy cooperation in oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea. He has asked Beijing to “give me a week” to study the matter.
Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and the President had a “productive conversation” late Wednesday on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both countries in November during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo told the BusinessMirror.
Zhao’s courtesy call on Duterte in Malacañang lasted for about one hour and a half, Panelo said.
In a Palace briefing, Panelo said Zhao “suggested to the President” if he could already implement the MOUs with respect to the countries’ shared interest.
Asked for clarification by the BusinessMirror, Panelo said Zhao inquired on when the MOU can be implemented since both countries have already have signed agreements to cooperate.
“[He is] asking because your basis is we already agreed. When can we implement this [MOU] because your basis is we already agreed? When can we implement these so that we can already both get benefits,” Panelo said in Filipino, paraphrasing Zhao. Panelo said Duterte asked for time to ponder on how will they go about the MOUs.
“The President said, give me a week and I’ll study,” he said.
Panelo denied that China is growing impatient about the progress of the agreements.
He said there were no particular orders issued by the President as a result of the meeting.
And, according to Panelo, the issue of he maritime rescue center being put up China in the Spratly Islands was also not brought up during the courtesy call. Moreover, Panelo said, Zhao extended an invitation to Duterte to attend the Belt and Road Forum in late April this year.
After denials that an oil-exploration deal is in the works in time for Chinese President Xi’s visit, the Philippines and China signed an agreement on cooperation on oil and gas development in the West Philippine Sea, along with at least 28 other accords last November.