MANILA— Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday said all oil and gas development projects in the West Philippine Sea must pass the “highest standards of patriotism”, as the country restarted exploring the disputed area for oil.
President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the moratorium imposed in 2014 due to a territorial dispute with China. This paved the way for three projects to resume and for the Department of Energy to award more service contracts.
“This must go viral. That finger in that glove symbolizes what I will do to any Oil & Gas development project proponent that doesn’t pass my Oil & Gas MOU’s strictest highest standards of patriotism. But it will be a gloved fist without KY lubricant. Just sand,” Manila’s top diplomat said.
Last month, Locsin issued a reminder that “all arrangements” for oil and gas exploration fell under the memorandum of understanding between the two countries.
In 2018, Locsin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed an MOU on oil and gas development “without prejudice to the respective legal positions of both governments."
Under the Constitution, Locsin said the joint exploration allowed for a 60-40 share.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had hoped that the lifting of the moratorium would lead to a joint venture between the two countries.
Former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, meanwhile, hailed Duterte’s decision to lift the 6-year-old moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the disputed area, saying it was a “step in the right direction” as long as it was in line with the law.
“For as long as we pursue activities with China that [are] in accordance with Philippine law, this would be a step in the right direction towards a peaceful settlement of disputes,” Del Rosario said.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Friday that the government's decision to lift a 6-year-old moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the disputed sea was a unilateral move.