Amid the continuous firing of diplomatic protests on Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), four service contracts (SCs) for oil and gas exploration in the hotly-contested waters are up for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s approval, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
During Malacanang’s press conference on Thursday, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said that the SCs are being processed and that they will be brought to the Palace.
Cusi likewise is in talks with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the possibility of joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the WPS.
“We have an ongoing discussion led by DFA for the possible joint development dito sa West Philippine Sea. We have made [roadshows] inviting exploration [companies] to come to the Philippines and invest,” he said.
The DFA is the government agency that fires diplomatic protests against China.
Cusi pointed out that the activities are seen to push through despite the ongoing territorial disputes, saying that the incursion of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Philippine waters is a separate issue and does not interfere with the exploration.
Last month, the DOE said it still aims to process more applications for oil and gas services contracts within the WPS following Duterte’s pronouncement that he can no longer get back territories claimed by China.