Similar to India’s arrangement with Vietnam, Manila and New Delhi should conduct possible joint oil and gas offshore exploration, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, maritime and academic experts from the National Maritime Foundation (NMF) of India.
During the Track 2 forum in Manila hosted by non-government think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, suggested areas of cooperation include the conduct of joint oil and gas offshore exploration.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Maria Angela Ponce mentioned that the Indian administration suggested that after several months, Track 2 must precede Track 1. In this way, the country can be guided by the insights and inputs from other sectors to ensure Track 1 will address the needs of the participating country partners.
The current state of the bilateral state between Manila and New Delhi has not yet progressed further, but the foreign ministers of the Philippines and India already expressed their commitment to “expand and strengthen” the partnership, extending it to the fields of healthcare, agriculture, digital economy, defense, and security.
Furthermore, both nations reached a deal to hold discussions in terms of maritime affiliations and increased participation in hydrography.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has been consistent in holding maritime dialogues in its neighboring Asian countries including Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam extending it to Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
The country also eyes holding another maritime dialogue with the European Union, to be held in Manila.
Commodore Debesh Lahiri stated that an existing international body called the International Seabed Alliance identifies and controls oil and gas exploration locations.
Furthermore, Commodore Debesh Lahiri added that they can always reach out as friendly partners to the Philippines and do not see any conflicts between India and the Philippines’ possible collaboration along the exclusive economic zone (EZZ).
However, several reports stated that the oil and gas exploration deal by Vietnam and India coincides with the nine-dash line claim by China over the South China Sea. Vietnamese Ambassador to Manila Hoang Huy Chung affirmed that India’s drilling and oil exploration activity is within the country’s “continental shelf.”