MANILA – The ongoing maritime row between the Philippines and China will not hinder plan to possibly hold a joint exploration for oil and gas resources in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Tuesday.
“Kaya nga po mayroong usapin na habang hindi pa nareresolba kung sino ang mayroong soberenya diyan sa areas na ‘yan baka posible na joint ang magiging exploration at exploitation. Patuloy po yung usapin na ‘yan dahil sa iba’t-ibang parte naman ng daigdig itong mga issue na ito ay hindi naging hadlang para makinabang ang lahat sa tanging yaman (That’s why there is an agreement that while we have not yet resolved who has sovereign rights in those areas, it might be possible to have joint exploration and exploitation. So those talks are ongoing because in different parts of the world, this kind of issue never became a barrier for countries to benefit from these resources),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque expressed optimism that the joint exploration agreement would give way to economic activity that would benefit both countries.
“Pagdating po sa joint exploration sa karagatan, marami na po tayong mga model na puwedeng sundin diyan at nakikita po natin na pupuwede naman po pag-usapan ang mga bagay-bagay na ito sa panig ng magkapitbahay na matalik na magkaibigan (When it comes to joint exploration on seas, there are many models that the countries may follow and we can see that these matters can be discussed between neighbors who are also close friends),” he added.
The Philippines and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on joint oil exploration in WPS during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Philippines in November 2018.
The MOU is the basis for the two governments to “negotiate on an accelerated basis arrangement to facilitate oil and gas exploration and exploitation in relevant maritime areas consistent with applicable rules of international law”.
The two countries sought the joint exploitation of natural resources in the disputed waters under the proposed 60-40 sharing scheme.
On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands invalidated China’s nine-dash line, a geographical marker Beijing invoked to assert its extensive claims in the strategic waters.
The Duterte administration has stood pat on its policy to promote Philippine claims and entitlements as well as manage and resolve disputes through “peaceful” means. (PNA)