MANILA-- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said China was officially notified of the country's creation of a technical working group (TWG) on the joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

"I've communicated already with the Chinese ambassador that we're forming our TWG," he said, adding that he's now waiting for a meeting with the Chinese side's TWG chair.

Cayetano said Ambassador Zhao Jianhua was "very positive" when he received the news.

"He's very happy na nagbuo na tayo ng TWG (that we already formed a TWG),” Cayetano said.

The DFA chief told reporters that the sooner an agreement is crafted, "the better for everyone."

"Assuming there are commercial quantities and everyone is saying there are, isn't it better for everyone to benefit from this now?,” he said, estimating that the development itself may take three to four years if it pushes through.

"It won't be easy so what we want is to craft the agreement right away and we start right away and I want to start, hopefully, early next year. That can happen if by August, September, October we already have an agreement," he said, referring to the joint development. (PNA)