PH Navy says it’s ready for security role in resumption of oil hunt in West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Navy would play a key security role in the resumption of oil exploration by Philippine companies in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea.
Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said on Monday (Oct. 19) that the Navy will protect Philippine contractors that will explore for oil in the western Philippines, which included Recto (Reed) Bank.
“The Philippine Navy is ready to protect our vessels conducting oil exploration or conducting surveys in our areas,” Bacordo said at a press briefing.
He said the Navy would operate within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, “within the 350 nautical mile extended continental shelf in the Benham Rise.”
“That is part and parcel of our task as your Philippine Navy to protect our own and to protect the conduct of surveys and protect the conduct of these explorations,” Bacordo said.
Last week, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi announced that President Rodrigo Duterte had approved the recommendation of his agency to lift the suspension of oil exploration in waters off Palawan province, particularly those covered by Petroleum Service Contract (SC) Nos. 59, 72 and 75.
SC 59 is operated by state-owned Philippine National Oil Co.-Exploration Corp. The two others—SC 72 and SC 75—are held by the Manuel Pangilinan-led PXP Energy Corp.
Bacordo said area commanders will be in charge of the security. Philippine claims in the West Philippine Sea are covered by the Western Command in Palawan and the Northern Luzon Command in Tarlac.
Bacordo said maritime and air patrols in the exploration area are continuing and facilities are being improved in the West Philippine Sea “so that we will have better monitoring and better response to our vessels conducting these explorations.”
The Aquino administration, Duterte’s predecessor, had declared a force majeure in 2014, or a situation over which not much could be done, which led to a moratorium on ongoing oil explorations as a result of the maritime dispute with the Asian military power China.
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