The Philippines is open to new talks with China on oil and gas exploration, the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s government is ready to resume discussions, but any deal will have to comply with Philippine laws, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told lawmakers during his agency’s budget hearing Wednesday.
“We will be not agreeing to anything not in accordance with the Philippine Constitution. That will be our guiding principle,” Manalo said.
In June, Marcos’s predecessor Rodrigo Duterte ended talks with Beijing on oil exploration in the South China Sea, with then foreign affairs chief Teodoro Locsin saying discussions have gone as far as “it is constitutionally possible to go.”
A 2016 international arbitration ruling made clear the Philippines had sovereign rights to exploit energy reserves inside its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. But China, which claims about 90% of the South China Sea as its territory, has refused to recognise that decision.