Press Release
May 24, 2021

SP Sotto on WPS exploration

SENATE President Vicente Sotto III today called on Malacañang to consider economic options as an alternative response to the continuing conflict between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Sotto suggested that government leaders look at the feasibility of jumpstarting oil exploration studies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone to underscore the country's arbitral victory at the United Nations and affirm our resolute claim over the contested area.

"The public discourse over the WPS boils down to one thing: While the United Nations ruled in our favor, the ruling cannot be put in force because of the absence of an international body that would enforce it. But we can use this arbitral victory to our advantage," the Senate President said.

He said the Department of Energy can pursue proposals to conduct exploration activities in the contested waters and open the initiative to private investors and even other nations on a 60-40 joint agreement.

"Hindi naman tayo pwedeng pagbawalan ng China kung gusto nating i-explore ang natural and mineral resources sa ating EEZ dahil atin iyon, pagmamay-ari natin iyon. Kung interesado ang China, pwede naman silang maging joint partner natin pero 60-40 ang hatian dahil tayo ang may-ari nung area," Sotto said.

"Huwag nating sayangin ang economic opportunity na available sa atin. Our government leaders should start scouting for investors who are willing to pour in funds to explore the rich aquatic resources in the area, there are oil and gas reserves and other natural resources in the depths of these waters," he added.

He also said: "It is time that we set aside our political differences. Unahin natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan, maghanap tayo ng paraan na magamit ang ating panalo sa UN para magkaroon ng karagdagang kita ang ating gobyerno na magagamit nito para mapagbuti ang social services."

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