Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi. (Photo)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Fearing China’s unlawful exploitation of petroleum, and marine resources inside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Energy (DoE) has vowed it will take the necessary steps to assert the country’s rights over them.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi issued the statement following a pronouncement from President Rodrigo Duterte in his public address last Monday, April 19, that the government would be sending warships to disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea once the country starts drilling for oil and other resources in the seabed of the region.
“The Department of Energy (DOE) stands firmly behind any decision and action of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte regarding the assertion of the exclusive licensing authority of the Philippines over petroleum and other resources in the seabed and subsoil of the West Philippine Sea,” Cusi stressed.
The energy chief disclosed that the DoE actively supports the President’s declaration regarding the defense of the resources of the Philippine seabed and subsoil as this is in accordance with the Philippine laws.
“Under our laws, only the Philippine government, through the DOE, may issue licenses to drill in Philippine land territory, including its islands, internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and continental shelf,” he pointed out.
“Should any foreign state engage in petroleum activities inside the Philippine petroleum jurisdiction, the DOE shall take the necessary steps to protect our licensees and preserve our resources,” he added.
“It shall defer to the sole prerogative of the President regarding any security option. It shall also conform to any decision that the Department of Foreign Affairs might take regarding the ongoing informal negotiations on oil and gas cooperation with China.”
Tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea surfaced anew due to the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in waters within the Philippines’ maritime territory.
The Department of National Defense (DN) has called for the immediate removal of these vessels while the Department of Foreign Affairs filed a series of diplomatic protests over the issue. (AI/MTVN)