Oil explorations in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) will no longer be resumed under the Duterte Administration to not “cause problems” with China, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana, who also chairs the Cabinet’s Security, Justice, and Peace Coordinating Center (SJPCC), added that the outgoing administration is leaving the decision on the resumption of such activities to the next administration.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself agreed to upholding the suspension, according to the Defense chief.
Duterte is expected to step down at noon on June 30.
Exploration activities in the WPS were put on hold until the SJPCC issues “the necessary clearance to proceed.” Manny V. Pangilinan-led PXP Energy Corporation, which controls the Service Contract (SC) 72 and 75 exploration blocks in the WPS, first revealed the suspension in early April.
Lorenzana questioned why exploration activities only resumed recently when the WPS exploration ban was lifted in October 2020. He further explained that the security clearance required by the SJPCC was to avoid conflict with China, where a joint exploration agreement was signed in 2018. The affected SCs are “unilateral”, he said.
The Department of Energy earlier appealed for the resumption of the WPS explorations as geophysical surveys are a legitimate activity even in disputed areas, based on international law.