The Philippines will ignore China’s warnings against Philippine plans to offer oil exploration contracts in the West Philippine Sea.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Sunday said “We have been offering, the Philippine government has been offering exploration contracts in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea since the 1970s. Walang nagpoprotesta (No one has protested). We will continue to do so,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
Asked if the Philippines can assure interested parties that the exploration contracts will be legal, Valte replied, “Yes of course certainly.”
Last Friday, China frowned on reported plans by the Philippines to offer oil exploration contracts in the area, as it reminded Manila not to escalate tension there.
A report posted on the Chinese government’s web portal quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin as saying any exploration without China’s permission will be illegal.
“Without permission from the Chinese government, oil exploration activities by any country or any company in waters under China’s jurisdiction are illegal,” he said.
He added China has repeatedly lodged representations with the Philippines for their bidding out oil exploration contracts in some of the blocs.
Such actions had “violated China’s interests,” he added.
Liu was referring to earlier reports quoting Philippine Energy Undersecretary James Layug at the sidelines of an energy forum in Manila on Wednesday.
The reports quoted Layug as saying the Philippines will offer oil exploration contracts for three blocs in the West Philippine Sea on July 31.
All the blocs are off the coast of the western Philippine island of Palawan. Layug was quoted as saying all reserves in that area belong to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.