Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Friday affirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier pronouncement to lift the ban on oil exploration activities in the West Philippine Sea was unilaterally decided by the Philippine government.
In a video conference briefing, Cusi stressed that while it was only the Philippine government’s decision to lift the moratorium on seismic as well as oil and gas drilling activities at the disputed territory, they are confident that it can resume activities in the West Philippine Sea “freely.”
“This decision was done unilaterally… It is a unilateral decision by the Philippine government,” said Cusi.
Cusi added that the policy enforcement was partly anchored on the country’s edgy disposition because of the near-term resource exhaustion of the Malampaya field; as well as the expiration of its service contract in 2024.
Asked why it took long for the government to lift the ban, the Energy chief explained that there were “many complications” that had to be addressed and clarified and added that the Philippines will “stand up” for its rights, in the event that China protests the resumption of petroleum activities in the disputed territory.
Cusi reiterated that the government’s decision to lift the ban will not affect ties between China and the Philippines regarding the territory dispute issues.
“I cannot speak on behalf of China, but based on their pronouncements, we can do our activity freely as the country that has the economic rights,” Cusi said. “I don’t think it will negatively affect us.”
The Cabinet official also announced that there is still no definite timeline yet when the service contractors can resume their petroleum activities, but “they will do it within the time frame allowed in their service contract.”
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