Malacañang has not yet taken a stance on joint oil and gas exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea and said they would study it first.
“Pag-aaralan po natin sa ngayon,” said Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Tuesday.
This was Angeles’ response when asked for a reaction to what Chinese Minister Liu Jianchao said, who expressed hope that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. would consider joint exploration.
The Press Secretary added that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should handle foreign relations matters, “especially those related to contracts.”
A former Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, Liu said he hopes “the discussion will continue and both sides will show some kind of flexibility” to make cooperation happen.
The Philippines and China are in a territorial dispute over part of the South China Sea believed to be rich in oil and other energy resources.
Marcos declared in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) that he would not surrender even an inch of the country’s territory under his administration.
However, he did not indicate his stance on joint exploration.
Malacañang to study Philippines-China joint exploration in WPS
Before the end of his term, former president Rodrigo Duterte ordered the end of oil and gas discussions with China in the West Philippine Sea.
The joint exploration talks have been conducted for three years. Still, the country’s goal of developing oil and gas resources has not been achieved despite the efforts of both sides to move the matter forward, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said then.
In June, Locsin Jr revealed that former President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the end of the Philippines’ joint oil exploration talks with China.
The West Philippine Sea (WPS), a component of the nation’s exclusive economic zone, is thought to have rich oil and gas reserves.
The Philippines had intended to conduct research and development in the disputed waters, but this never happened due to China’s extensive claim over the South China Sea.
In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in November 2018, the governments of China and the Philippines agreed to set up an intergovernmental joint steering group to explore potential energy cooperation.