A month and a half after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the moratorium on oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Command (WESCOM) conducted a military exercise on the platform of the Malampaya gas field off the coast of Palawan.
The Gas-Oil Platform Takedown (GOPLAT) Exercise was held recently particularly on Malampaya’s retired Matinloc Platform in order to test the operational readiness and coordination mechanisms among agencies in case a security situation arises in the country’s sole source of indigenous fuel.
Soldiers in full gear practiced air insertion through helicopter to supposedly recover the observation post among other activities. WESCOM’s medical team also joined the exercises, together with personnel from the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard.
The Navy has plans to convert Matinloc into an observation post for Malampaya and Recto Bank, the site of possible exploration activities with China.
The WPS is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone, but is being claimed by China as part of its territory. Recto Bank, meanwhile, has been eyed as a replacement for Malampaya, whose natural gas resources are expected to run out by 2027.
Photo from WESCOM FB page.