Draft sea deal ready by November

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By Chito Lozada

The President has repeatedly said he’s open to a joint exploration, number one because the Supreme Court says it is constitutional in La Bugal and number two because it is pursuant to national interest

Malacañang expressed hopes yesterday the draft bilateral agreement on the joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS) will be ready before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Manila in November.

“[There is] no time frame, but of course with the impending visit of President Xi, I would say that it is anytime between now and the visit but it was not expressly stated as such,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

The Palace official said Xi is slated to visit the country after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Roque said the administration is now “moving towards a bilateral agreement that would enable the joint exploration to happen.”

Cooperation with Beijing needed
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is keen on pursuing the cooperation with Beijing as the two nations find ways to settle overlapping territorial claims in the area.

“The President has repeatedly said he’s open to a joint exploration, number one because the Supreme Court says it is constitutional in La Bugal and number two because it is pursuant to national interest,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the chief executive already approved the establishment of a technical working group (TWG) for the Philippine-China joint exploration.

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