Senator-elect Robinhood Padilla wants the Philippines to start drilling for oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as the country continues to reel from unabated price increases of oil products caused by external factors.
Padilla, topnotcher in the May 2022 senatorial race, made the suggestion as he expressed regrets that the Philippines had to terminate talks with China over a proposed joint energy exploration in the disputed waters.
He will chair the Senate constitutional amendments committee in the forthcoming 19th Congress that will start July 25.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. earlier said that based on President Duterte’s instructions, the Philippines had to terminate the Philippine-China joint energy exploration talks that bore no fruit after several years of negotiations.
Based on the statement of Padilla, the two countries could not agree on the terms of sharing with the Philippines wanting a 60-40 investment sharing arrangement while China wanted. 50-50 sharing scheme,
Under the Philippine Constitution, investment sharing in Philippine businesses should be on a 60-40 sharing mode, with the Philippines having the 60 percent share.
“Nalungkot lamang po ako noong nabalitaan ko na yung inaalok natin na joint exploration sa china, para mag mosquito na rin tayo, ibig sabihin bumutas na rin tayo sa WPS, kasi proven na rin po yan na meron talagang langis at gas doon sana (I was saddened by reports about what happened to the proposed joint exploration with China. It’s time that we start the oil drill in WPS. It has been proven that there are really oil and gas deposits in the area),” Padilla told Senate reporters before he attended the Senate briefing/orientation to the newly elected senators of the 19th Congress.
“Tinatanong ko rin po yung Legislative ko sinasabi ko sa kanila ano pwedeng paraan para mabigyan natin ng kapangyarihan sinuman kasi ang pumipigil daw dyan yung 60-40 na hatian, ang gusto raw po nila 50-50 (I have also asked the legislative on what way we can enpower the one that opposes the 60-40 sharing as they are pushing for a 50-50 sharing), the neophyte senator added.
“Sa akin kung gusto talaga natin magkaroon ng resulta, kailangan magmosquito na tayo ng langis natin. Itong bayan natin ay pinaliligiran tayo ng langis, ang nagkakaroon lang po ng problema dito ay kung sino ang magmomosquito, sino ang bubutas, sana po ay magkaisa na tayo sa usapin na ito (In my case, if we want a result, we have to drill for our own oil. Our country is surrounded by oil, the only problem here is that who will do the drilling for us, I hope we will be united on this),” Padilla stressed.
President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. earlier said he would assert the Philippines’ rights over the WPS and talk to China “consistently with a firm voice” about the two countries’ territorial dispute in the area.
“Our sovereignty is sacred and we will not compromise it in any way,” Marcos had told reporters. “We will not allow a single square millimeter of our maritime coastal…rights to be trampled upon.”
Young Marcos, son of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, had also said he would use the 2016 United Nations arbitral ruling in 2016 to assert the Philippines’ territorial rights.
The UN court ruling rejected China’s ‘historical’ claim over most parts of the South China Sea which includes the WPS.
China has ignored the arbitral ruling, while the Philippines under President Duterte maintained its position to resolve the sea disputes through diplomatic negotiation
The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea (SCS) within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea (WPS).