Duterte likens joint exploration to 'co-ownership'

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Photo courtesy: King Rodriguez/Presidential Photos

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — President Rodrigo Duterte said the decision to go into a joint exploration with China was the best option because it will not lead to war.

He said the joint explorations were akin to "co-ownership."

During a speech at the inauguration of a housing project for families displaced by the Marawi crisis, Duterte said he wanted to dispel the notion that he did nothing to impress the country's claim over disputed areas in the South China Sea.

"Sinabi ko nandito ako, paalamin sa iyo na pupunta ako diyan sa Spratly kasi I will dig oil. Tapos sabi ng Chinese, si (President) Xi Jinping, pag-usapan na lang natin. Sabi ko, 'No kasi amin 'yan,''"the President said.

[Translation: I said I am here to let you know that I am going to the Spratlys because I will dig for oil. The Chinese said, Xi Jinping said, let's talk about this. I said, "No, because that is ours.]

He said he was not willing to go to war with China as it would lead to a massacre of soldiers. China then offered the option of joint explorations.

"Kita mo. Eh kung inasar ko noon, pinagpu-p***** i** ko sila, walang mangyari. Ngayon offer nila joint exploration 'di parang co-ownership. Parang dalawa tayong may-ari niyan. Eh 'di mas maganda 'yan kaysa away," he said.

[Translation: You see. If I goaded them them, if I called them sons of b*****s, nothing would have happened. Now they offered joint exploration, it's like co-ownership. It's like the two of us own that. That's better than fighting.]

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said both countries were aggressively pursuing the joint exploration in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

READ: PH aggressively pursuing joint oil and gas exploration with China

"I can tell you we are pursuing it aggressively because we need it," Cayetano said.

Cayetano said both countries came to an agreement during their bilateral meeting on the South China Sea.

The Philippines and China will now separately work on their legal provisions of the exploration, before coming together to create a unified framework.

Cayetano said both sides are working on a unified framework that would "follow the Constitution and withstand scrutiny from the Supreme Court."

CNN Philippines Correspondent Claire Jiao, and Digital Producers Pia Garcia and VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.