Exploring West PH Sea more urgent for Philippines rather than China

The Philippine government is now seriously studying to go on a joint exploration in West Philippine Sea, Philippine Ambassador-designate to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said at media forum Tapatan sa Aristocrat January 2.

“The basic challenge here is how to do it, whether with a US company or a British company or a Chinese company, so that you can have a joint venture or a joint development, whatever you want to call it, that is in line with our constitutional requirements,” Sta. Romana said at the forum as quoted by GMA News Online.

Sta. Maria noted that it is more urgent for Philippines than China to explore the natural resources in West Philippine Sea.

“The problem is more urgent for the Philippines rather than China because Malampaya may be depleted in 10 years. So we have to find a way to deal with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the same forum, University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea director Jay Batongbacal said that Philippine government should now assert its claim in West Philippine Sea because we may be “losing room for manoeuvrability and eliminating options.”

Batongbacal said the Philippines should now at least file a diplomatic protest against China’s move to militarize islands in disputed features.

He also said that Philippines should “ensure that a joint exploration, joint development with China is transparent and will result in a fair and equitable allocation of resources, while at the same time avoiding the possibility that it will be used at a later time against you as being proof that you recognized for example the other side’s claims.”