Former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario believes the Philippines should go ahead with its own oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) without having to wait for for China to resume talks as fuel and energy prices trouble Filipinos.
In a statement on Sunday (Sep 4), del Rosario insisted that the Marcos administration needs “political will” to assert the country’s rights to the disputed sea as China continues to threaten and harass fishermen in the WPS.
“At this time of increasing energy prices besetting the lives of our countrymen, political will is needed to enforce our rights over the oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea, so that our country will be able to benefit from new energy sources,” del Rosario said.
“We hope to see this political will as President Marcos Jr. will need to find new energy sources to support our country in the coming years and he has to face China to do this,” he added.
Del Rosario, who was Foreign Secretary during the administration of late President Benigno Aquino III when the country won the landmark 2016 arbitral awards to sovereign rights to the WPS, said that the country can take inspiration from neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia who continue to assert their territorial rights against China.are also contested by China.
“Despite warnings and harassment from China, our neighbors proceeded with and completed their drilling,” the ex-DFA secretary said.
“Thus Malaysia and Indonesia, whose waters are also claimed by China, were able to assert their sovereign rights over their waters, without the benefit of an Unclos [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] award and a mutual defense treaty with the US, like the Philippines,” he noted.
Earlier, current DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo expressed interest in joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea with China, despite the latter’s rejection of the Philippines’ territorial claims which have already been awarded by The Hague in 2016.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.
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