Is this a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday asserted the country’s claims over territories in the West Philippine Sea even after the Department of Energy suspended oil and gas exploration in the Recto Bank citing the country’s territorial dispute with China.
“Philippine development activity in the West Philippine Sea will take place in accordance with the national interest, following Philippine laws and in conformity with international including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the DFA said in a statement it issued in the wake of the DOE’s action to stop exploration in the offshore territory west of Palawan.
The DFA, however, declined to elaborate on its statement.
In a disclosure before the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex Mining, and its subsidiary, United Kingdom-based Forum Energy, announced that the DOE has suspended oil and gas exploration at the Recto Bank, which is also known as Reed Bank.
The PSE disclosure indicated that Reed Bank was a disputed area, hence, the existence of a force majeure situation and the need to suspend the operation until the DOE gives the go signal that drilling and exploration may resume.
In a disclosure submitted to the PSE, Philex Mining said the DOE “has granted a force majeure on Service Contract (SC) 72, because this contract area falls within the territorial disputed area of the West Philippine Sea which is the subject of an United Nations arbitration process between the Republic of Philippines and the People’s Republic of China.”
Philippine officials have said in the past that Recto Bank is not part of the disputed features in the South China Sea, which is home to a cluster of islands, rocks, reefs and cays where undersea oil, gas and mineral deposits were discovered in several areas.
It is not clear why the DOE have described Recto Bank a disputed territory.
Philippine officials insisted the feature “is not an island, a rock or a low tide elevation, but a submerged bank that is part of continental margin of Palawan.”
Moreover, Recto Bank, which is about 85 nautical miles from the nearest coast of Palawan and 595 nautical miles from the coast of Hainan, is within the continental shelf of the Philippine archipelago under the UNCLOS.
China has ignored Manila’s claims, saying Recto Bank is part of the South China Sea, which it claims nearly in its entirety.
Manila in January 2013 filed a case against Beijing before a Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in a bid to declare its massive claim illegal. —NB, GMA News
Read more: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/446029/economy/companies/dfa-asserts-phl-claim-even-after-doe-stops-drilling-in-recto-bank