MANILA, Philippines - The planned oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea will proceed despite new protests from China, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Thursday.
Gazmin said the areas are within the jurisdiction of the country.
"The oil explorations are within our territorial limits. Why should we ask permission from whoever. If that's ours, its ours,” he said.
The Department of Energy announced last Monday it has already invited investors in the area.
Immediately, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stressed their "indisputable sovereignty" over Nansha Islands or Spratly Islands and its adjacent waters.
"It is unlawful for any country or company to explore oil and gas in sea areas under Chinese jurisdiction without the permission of the Chinese government," Hong was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency.
Nonetheless, Gazmin sees no need to heighten maritime patrols in the area.
He ensured the safety of investors. He noted, “these investors would not go there if their safety is not assured."