President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is ready to partner with China for possible joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a media interview, Marcos broached the idea of exploring other ways to ensure the immediate development of oil and gas resources in the contested waters.
Marcos made the remark, in case the possible government-to-government partnership fails to proceed.
“We’ll have to find a way kasi kailangan na natin eh…Yung China maliit na bagay sa kanila ‘yun eh. Sa atin malaking bagay ‘yan. So, kailangan natin ipaglaban at mapakinabangan kung meron ngang oil talaga,” he added.
But Marcos admitted that joint exploration talks are facing a roadblock,
“Kasi kini-claim ng China kanila ‘yun, eh atin naman talaga iyan. So, sinasabi ng Pilipinas, basta’t ‘yung batas kailangan masundan ‘yung sa Pinas. Ang sinasabi naman ng Chinese, hindi, amin iyan eh, kaya’t kailangan masundan is Chinese. Kaya ‘yun talaga ang roadblock doon,” Marcos said.
Three years ago ago, the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China on joint oil and gas development in WPS.
However, the Philippines, under the Duterte administration, terminated the talks before Marcos assumed presidency on June 30 because of constitutional constraints and issues on the country’s sovereignty.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in September this year said the two countries have so far made “initial and general discussions” on possible joint exploration in WPS but have not yet progressed to “working-level talks.”
During their inaugural bilateral meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on Nov. 17, Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that the immediate conclusion of negotiations for the final and binding Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea (SCS) will help address the maritime disputes among littoral states.
On July 12, 2016, the Philippines won its petition against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands after the court invalidated Beijing’s supposedly historic rights over nearly the entire SCS, including the WPS.
China has repeatedly ignored the 2016 PCA ruling despite the Philippines’ historic win. (PNA)