MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will continue with plans to offer oil exploration contracts in the West Philippine Sea amid warnings from China.
In an interview with radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “We have been offering exploration contracts in Recto Bank since the 1970s.”
Still, the Philippines has not received a single complaint, she said.
She said the government will ensure that the contracts will be offered to investors sans legal questions.
In an article posted Friday on the Chinese government website, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said oil exploration activities in waters under its jurisdiction will be illegal without its permission.
He said China has already made representations with the Philippines in the past vis-à-vis the oil exploration offers.
The Philippines recently asked its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make a common stand in connection with the maritime dispute, most especially in the Scarborough Shoal.
Still, the ASEAN has not issued one. The chairman of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting said this is “the first time that ASEAN is not able to issue the joint communique due to bilateral conflict between some ASEAN member states and a neighboring country.”
The Philippines deplored the non-issuance of a joint communiqué.
Despite this, Valte said the Philippines will continue to work with the ASEAN, specifically on the formulation of a Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea.