The Philippines must find a way to explore for oil and gas in the South China Sea even without a deal with China, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Thursday, emphasizing his country’s right to exploit energy reserves in the contested waterway.
“That’s a big thing for us, that is why we need to fight [for what is ours] and take advantage if there really is oil there,” Marcos told reporters.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
Talks over joint energy exploration between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea had been terminated, the previous government said in June, citing constitutional constraints and issues of sovereignty.
“That’s the roadblock, it is hard to see how we can resolve that. I think there might be other ways so it does not have to be G-to-G [government-to-government],” Marcos said.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Marcos’ remarks came after his foreign affairs secretary said in August Manila was open to new talks with China on oil and gas exploration and that a deal with China or any other country must comply with Philippine laws.
The Philippines relies heavily on imported fuel for its energy needs, making it vulnerable to supply shocks and rising oil prices, which have helped push up inflation to a near 14-year high.
During a three-day visit last week, US Vice President Kamala Harris affirmed American defense commitments to the Philippines and reiterated support for a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing’s expansive South China Sea claims.
The ruling, which China refused to recognize, states that the Philippines has sovereign rights to exploit energy reserves inside its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
Marcos said on Thursday “we will have something more concrete” to announce by early next year about US proposals to access Philippine military bases under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Washington has proposed adding more sites to the current five under EDCA, which allows for the rotation of US military ships and aircraft at mutually agreed bases.
Philippine firm PXP Energy Corp, which holds an exploration permit in the Reed Bank, a disputed area, has had talks with China National Offshore Oil Corp on a joint venture. But Manila and Beijing’s conflicting claims have prevented it from undertaking further drilling and reaching a deal with CNOOC.
Philippines’ Marcos wants China to explain ‘benign’ account of rocket part seizure
Kamala Harris affirms ‘unwavering’ US defense commitment to treaty ally Philippines
Philippines accuses China of ‘forcefully’ seizing object in disputed waters
US VP Kamala Harris seeks to reset relations with the Philippines during visitUS Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in the Philippines on Sunday for talks aimed at reviving ties with Washington’s oldest ally in Asia and one ... World News
Philippines to accelerate defense pact with US for troops, facilitiesThe Philippines wants to accelerate a defense pact with US for troops and bases that was earlier stalled, as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. bolsters ... World News
Philippines and US kick off joint naval exercises amid tensions with ChinaThe armed forces of the United States and Philippines launched two weeks of joint naval exercises on Monday, reinforcing a close military alliance at ... World News