MANILA – The Marcos administration will study the proposed joint oil exploration between the Philippines and China in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Pag-aaralan po natin sa ngayon (As of now, we will study it),” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a Palace press briefing.

Cruz-Angeles’ statement was issued after former Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao expressed optimism about the revival of negotiations on China’s possible joint oil and gas exploration with the Philippines in WPS.

Liu, the current minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee, hoped Sunday that the Marcos administration will consider joint oil and gas development in the busy waterway.

Cruz-Angeles said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will look into the proposal to jointly explore energy resources in WPS.

“Ukol sa mga foreign relations natin, lalung-lalo na those involving contracts kailangan pa po ng abiso ng ating Department of Foreign Affairs (With regard to our foreign relations, especially if these involve contracts, the Department of Foreign Affairs needs to be notified),” she said.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on July 27 said China is ready to restart talks on oil and gas exploration with the Philippines.

In November 2018, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on joint oil and gas development in WPS.

The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, terminated the talks before Marcos assumed presidency on June 30 because of constitutional constraints and issues on the country’s sovereignty.

The Philippines on July 12, 2016, won its petition against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands after the court invalidated Beijing’s supposedly historic rights over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the WPS.

Despite the Philippines’ historic win, China has repeatedly ignored the 2016 PCA ruling. (PNA)