Enterprise mogul Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) is keen on reopening the West Philippine Sea for prospective resources now that relations between the Philippines and China have improved since Duterte’s presidential meeting with Xi Jinping last year.
MVP has expressed positivity over the two nations’ newfound ties with suggesting to advance the Philippines’ economic opportunities by taking advantage of the Reed Bank, which to this day, is still under suspension due to the territorial conflict in the area.
“We’re more hopeful now based on the statements of the government so hopefully, we could push forward with it,” MVP told the Philippine Star.
MVP’s enterprise portfolio includes Forum Energy’s 70 percent stake in the Reed Bank, while the remaining 30 percent belongs to Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc..The business tycoon has also set discussions with a few Chinese affiliates on a possible commercial arrangement in the disputed area in the future.
The potential of such a venture is confirmed by an official at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), echoing the PH government’s warming negotiations with the left-wing nation.
“Joint exploration doesn’t affect and involve the respective legal systems of both countries. It is about agreeing on common rules and arrangements acceptable to both sides. Two countries make decisions that could benefit the peoples of both sides,” CIIS Executive Vice President Ruan Zongze said.
Earlier, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that both countries are moving forward on the issue, with China calling for a maritime code of conduct in the SEA region.
China had talks underway with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the adoption of a negotiating framework for the code of conduct.
On a lighter note, MVP said once the ban is lifted, they would prepare first for a deliberate exchange with the Chinese authorities before any actual exploration occurs in the disputed waters.
“We have to talk to the Chinese in preparation for that,” he said.
In August 2012, the Department of Energy suspended all exploration and drilling projects in the Reed Bank following the ongoing territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
Moreover, the decision to resume work in the area will be based on the guidance from the Foreign Affairs sector, Energy Chief Alfonso Cusi said.