DFA: PH open to new West Philippine Sea exploration talks with China

WPS Exploration Site

The Philippines is open to talks with China on joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. 

While the previous administration terminated the joint exploration in the disputed areas due to constitutional restraints and sovereignty issues, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said in a GMA News that they have indicated to China that “we are open to new talks on oil and gas exploration.” 

Manalo stressed that the Philippines will not compromise its legal claims in the West Philippine Sea, claiming they “will not be agreeing to anything which is not in accordance to our Constitution.” 

Under the 1987 Constitution, exploration, development, and utilization of the country’s natural resources must be under the complete control and supervision of the Philippine government. Furthermore, while the constitution allows the government to enter joint ventures, production-sharing agreements, or co-production agreements, it must be with private companies that are 60% owned by Filipino Citizens. 

China recently said that they are willing to assist the Philippines in improving its energy sector. 

Earlier, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was urged to resume to country’s bilateral talks with China through Senate Resolution 9 filed by neophyte senator Robinhood Padilla. 

In April, the Department of Energy (DOE) ordered the suspension of exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), particularly PXP Energy Corporation’s Service Contract (SC) 72 and 75.

In related developments, Marcos Jr. met with the Private Sector Advisory to explore possible cooperations to help develop the country’s energy sector.