Duterte: PH must honor agreements with China
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines must continue to honor its agreement with China to conduct joint exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea, according to President Duterte who warned that there could be trouble if the country deviates from this.
Duterte, who is set to step down in June, said somebody from China whom he did not identify reminded him about the joint exploration in Recto Bank as there was speculation that a new company would take over the activity.
“You know I can only talk for this time that we are here, my administration. It was whispered to me ‘Don’t let this happen, we should honor our original contracts,’” Duterte said in his regular public address on Monday.
The Recto Bank, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, is believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
In 2018, the Philippines and China, which has sweeping claims over the South China Sea, signed a memorandum of understanding creating the framework for future negotiations on joint oil and gas explorations in the disputed waters.
Duterte said he was also warned about the Philippines’ supposed plan to send the military to the Recto Bank, which he had denied.
“I said, ‘we have no plan to send soldiers.’ The person said ‘Just in case you send soldiers, we will also do the same,’” he recalled.
This is what he has been trying to avoid, especially with so many flashpoints in the world, he said.
The Philippines does not need to pick a fight, especially with the conflict in Ukraine and tensions between Taiwan and China, he said.
“So many flashpoints, so many areas in conflict. We do not need it. We do not need to get into a fight,” he said.
Philippine commitments with China should be honored to avoid conflict, he stressed.
“You should just abide by what was agreed upon before. I said it’s a matter of honor. There were consensual talks and a written agreement. If that is amended, it will be risky,” he said.
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