grace poe

Is Philippines Obliged to Explore West Philippine Sea With China?

Sen. Grace Poe asks appointed Foreign Affairs Sec. Luis Enrique Manalo if other countries besides China, or any private firms, have reached out to the Philippines for a joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea.

“If we agree to their terms, would it pose a delicate situation with China? Are we, in a way, secretly bound with an agreement with China?” Poe inquired during the meeting of the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. Manalo replied that in the past, Russia had expressed an interest to conduct a joint exploration of the area with the Philippines, but later backed out.

Only China and companies from the same country were interested at present, he added. Manalo said the planned joint exploration, however, has yet to push through because China insists on applying its laws on the Philippine territory. Poe also asked Manalo on his diplomatic approach to previous reports of harassment of Filipino fishers by Chinese vessels sailing the West Philippine Sea.

The CA panel was deliberating whether or not to approve Manalo’s ad interim appointment to the Department of Foreign Affairs. (Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB)

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