No signing of joint exploration deal between PH, China yet: envoy

MANILA 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 are still trying to find a suitable legal framework that is 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 is political will on both sides to be able to move forward on the joint exploration agreement but it will not be at the Boao Forum.

Although an agreement was least likely to be signed, Sta. Romana said that a continuing discussion on the joint exploration may be pursued.

Sta. Romana, meanwhile, noted that a special panel on the West Philippine Sea issue will be a part of the Boao Forum for Asia.

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 main reason Duterte is attending the forum, Sta. Romana said, is to discuss the issue and to look for ways of possible solution, areas of cooperation once solutions have been pursued.

The main focus really is how to maintain the growth trajectory of Asia because Asia now is a major source of global economic growth, the ambassador sad.

He also allayed fears of a trade war, stressing that the forum will serve as a venue for the Philippine government to reiterate the need for globalization, or to maintain the open trading system and how to prevent protectionism from hampering the global economic growth.

Critics of the Duterte administration previously slammed plans of a joint exploration between the Philippines and China, stressing that it violates the law.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained that joint explorations were allowed in the 1987 Constitution and that there was nothing new about it. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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