Marcos Jr. urged to abandon China oil exploration deal, find other energy sources

Marcos Jr. urged to abandon China oil exploration deal, find other energy sources
The DOE had put on hold activities in prospects in the West Philippine Sea last April pending clearance from the SJPCC.
Philstar.com / File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — It would be better for the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to look for alternative sources of energy than to pursue talks on joint oil exploration with China, a fisherfolks' group said, citing difficulties in fishing in the West Philippine Sea.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a coalition of small fisherfolk organizations, called on Marcos Jr. to “permanently shelve” the idea. 

“We attest that this joint venture will institutionalize and intensify the Chinese plunder of our marine resources,” Pamalakaya said in a statement on Monday.

“Everyone has witnessed how China blatantly disregards our legal and political rights over the West Philippine Sea amid an international ruling that invalidated its claim.”

The Philippines has filed multiple diplomatic protests with China over incidents such as harassment of a research ship in the disputed waters as well as a fishing ban implemented by Beijing — which includes waters within the West Philippine Sea — and the presence of Chinese ships operating in Philippine waters.

‘Terminated completely’

This comes just days after outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that discussions on oil and gas exploration talks have been “terminated completely” on orders from President Rodrigo Duterte and added that it is up to the next administration to protect the country’s sovereignty.

Without mentioning a specific agreement, Locsin said that the two countries were not able to achieve the objective even if they went “as far as it is constitutionally possible to go.”

“Nothing is pending, everything is over,” he said. “Three years on and we had not achieved our objective of developing oil and gas resources so critical for the Philippines — but not at the price of sovereignty; not even a particle of it.”

However, Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said that the termination will not make a difference.

“Beijing has already established its control in nearly the entire of our exclusive economic zone courtesy of outgoing President Duterte’s puppetry,” he said.

Up to next admin

Beijing, on the other hand, still stands firm that a joint offshore oil and gas project is “the right way” for both countries as it will not infringe on both sides’ maritime positions and claims.

“China stands ready to work in concert with the new Philippine government to advance negotiations on joint development and strive to take early substantive steps so as to deliver tangible benefits to both countries and peoples,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a press conference held on June 24.

Pamalakaya said this is one of the issues that Marcos Jr.’s administration should put at the forefront.

With his inauguration in less than three days, Marcos Jr. has yet to appoint a new foreign affairs secretary and an energy secretary.

Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario said that the next administration should also keep in mind that the country will need to secure new sources of energy.

With the Malampaya gas field, the only provider of natural gas to power, expected to be depleted by 2024, the Philippines is running out of time.

“It remains imperative for our country to find new energy sources, while remaining steadfast in upholding our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, as embodied in the 2016 Hague Ruling,” Del Rosario said in a separate statement.





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