Robin: China still open to joint oil exploration

China remains open to a possible revival of joint oil exploration in the contested West Philippine Sea, Senator Robinhood Padilla said Thursday.

Padilla, who recently called for the revival of the terminated Philippine-China joint oil exploration, said that China is still keen on the idea, according to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“As the author of Senate Resolution No. 9, the ‘Resolution Urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to Resume Bilateral Talks with the People’s Republic of China for Purposes of Cooperation on Oil And Gas Development in the West Philippine Sea,’ I sought to clarify China’s position on the resumption of discussions on the matter,” he said.

“The ambassador said China will remain open to joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea, and that China will remain ready to coordinate with us to resolve issues there,” he added.

Huang, who recently returned to the Philippines, paid a courtesy visit to the members of the Philippine Senate earlier this week.

Padilla said the talks about the matter were taken warmly and cordially by the Ambassador.

“Together with my fellow senators led by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, I respect China’s comments on strengthening our diplomatic ties,” he said.

In a privileged speech last month, the lawmaker called for the resumption of discussions between China and the Philippines on possible joint gas and oil exploration development, an initiative started and eventually terminated by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Padilla reiterated that preventing the discussion regarding the matter will bring no good to the country, which is now being pummeled by the oil price hike and inflation rate.

In June, a week before he stepped down from office, Duterte ordered then Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to terminate the discussion on joint exploration with China, citing that “three years on and we had not achieved our objective of developing oil and gas resources so critical for the Philippines but not at the price of sovereignty; not even a particle of it.”

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