The joint energy exploration between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea has been terminated due to constitutional restraints and sovereignty issues, outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said.
“The president had spoken. I carried out his instructions to the letter: oil and gas discussions are terminated completely. Nothing is pending; everything is over,” Locsin said in his speech during the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Foundation Day.
Locsin said that the two countries have tried to “go as far as it is constitutionally possible to go.” However, one more step could have risked a possible “constitutional crisis.”
“That explains the sudden pull-back on my part which unraveled three years of sincere hard work on the part of Wang Yi and me. We had both tried to go as far as we could — without renouncing China’s aspiration on his part; and constitutional limitations on my part. I shut down shop completely,” Lacson said.
The Joint exploration project was first signed in November 2018. Locsin claimed that in the three-year discussion with China, the Philippines did not surrender even a portion of its sovereignty.
The DFA official said that it would now be up to the upcoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to protect the country’s sovereignty “all the way to the wire.”
“The irreducible template of what is constitutionally possible is there in black and white. Surrender of any portion of Philippine sovereignty is not an option,” Lacson said.
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.
While the DOE had asked the Cabinet’s Security, Justice, and Peace Coordinator Cluster (SJPCC) to lift the suspension, the Cabinet cluster said that the resumption of explorations in the WPS would depend on the next administration.