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Palace asks claimant countries in WPS to observe previously agreed declaration to ease tensions

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Malacanang has asked claimant countries in the West Philippine Sea to observe the declaration previously agreed on by parties to prevent escalating tensions in the area.

Secretary Ramon Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office told a Malacanang media briefinf the Philippine government is not aware of an area in the West Philippine Sea that China will bid out for exploration.

There was a report saying China plans to bid out oil blocks in portions of the West Philippine Sea.

Carandang was asked by reporters about the country’s position in case China allows exploration of areas that are part of the territories of the Philippines.

“We’re not sure what areas specifically that China plans to bid out. So if they are in areas that are disputed like the Kalayaan Group of Islands where there are other claimants like the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and then Taiwan and Vietnam, then I understand that the Code of Conduct, while it’s not binding, the spirit of it is that countries will not take any efforts to increase tensions,” he said.

“And so we would remind our friends, not just China that, in the spirit of the Code of Conduct, it might be better not to take actions that would raise tensions.”

The Palace official also mentioned the bidding to be held Monday by the Philippine government to open up some areas within the country’s jurisdiction for energy exploration

The areas to be bidded out for exploration are within Philippine territory and are not being contested, he said.

“This is not part of what is generally considered disputed territory. Hindi ito kasama ng Spratlys, hindi ito kasama ng Kalayaan Islands. This is part of Philippine territory so we don’t see any problem with that,” Carandang said.

Carandang also made an assurance the Philippine government will protect exploration companies that will work in the area, adding the government will exercise its right as a sovereign country to bid out licenses.

“And if those people who have licenses need protection, we will provide them to the best of our ability,” he said.

With regard to the standoff in the Panatag Shoal, Carandang assured the public all efforts are being undertaken to find a peaceful, legal and diplomatic solution to the disputes happening over the West Philippine Sea.

By PNA




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