China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea, according to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., have hampered cooperative oil and gas exploration in the region’s vast resource base.
According to Marcos, there is a dispute about whose law should apply in the event of a joint exploration due to the Philippines and China’s conflicting claims to the region.
When speaking with reporters in Quezon City, Marcos was questioned about a potential partner for the Philippines in the joint oil exploration.
“Ang talagang nangyari diyan is kasi kini-claim ng China kanila ‘yun, eh atin naman talaga ‘yan, so sinasabi namin, sinasabi ng Pilipinas basta ‘yung batas kailangan masundan ‘yung sa Pinas,” he said.
“Ang sinasabi naman ng Chinese, ‘hindi amin ‘yan eh.’ Kaya kailangan masundan is Chinese… so ‘yun talaga ang roadblock doon mahirap makita kung papano natin maayos ‘yun,” Marcos added.
For the collaborative oil exploration to proceed, according to Marcos, the national government must take action.
“We’ll have to find a way kasi kailangan na natin eh… We already need… kung mahanap diyan, kailangan na talaga ng Pilipinas. ‘Yung China maliit na bagay sa kanila ‘yun eh, sa atin malaking bagay ‘yan so kailangan natin ipaglaban at mapakinabangan talaga kung meron ngang oil talaga,” Marcos said.
West Philippine Sea ‘roadblock’ to joint oil exploration – China
Due to legal limitations and worries over China’s sovereignty, the Duterte administration ended cooperative oil and gas development discussions with that country.
Enrique Manalo, the secretary of foreign affairs for the Philippines, stated in August that his country is open to discussing collaborative oil and gas development with China.
Manalo promised that once the Philippines entered into a potential oil exploration agreement with China, it would not jeopardize its sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Beijing’s significant claims in the area have been rejected by the Hague-based arbitral decision in favor of the Philippines.
Since then, China has disregarded the decision and proceeded to increase its regional footprint.
Parts of the South China Sea that fall inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone are officially referred to as the West Philippine Sea by the Philippine government. Occasionally, the word is also used improperly to refer to the entire South China Sea.