The Philippines and China are in talks to jointly pursue oil and gas exploration in disputed waters of the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday.
“I can tell you we are pursuing it aggressively because we need it,” Cayetano told reporters. The Philippines will finalize within three months a legal framework that will allow for joint exploration, he said.
Philippine and Chinese officials met in Manila this week to discuss joint initiatives as the two nations seek to look past contentious maritime issues. China claims almost all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines in 2016 won an international tribunal ruling that rejected China’s assertion to the territory. Manila’s ambassador to Beijing, Chito Sta. Romana, on Feb. 15 said a group studying the possibility of a joint exploration may come out with its findings as early as this year.
Cayetano said the government is committed to exploring for new sources of energy as the Malampaya gas field, which supplies several Philippine power plants, will eventually run out of supply.