PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the Philippines will continue talks about the Malampaya natural gas fields with China in a bid to resolve conflicts.

“The only way to resolve the issues that are outstanding is to once again keep talking, to come to a consensus, to come to an agreement, and to continue to negotiate. It is not an easy process, but the Malampaya fields — natural gas fields that lie within our baselines and within our exclusive economic zone — and that again is being questioned in certain cases, in certain areas by China, and we continue to negotiate with them,” Marcos said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 4, 2023.

“We continue to find a way — the essential problem, the essential roadblock to that whole process has been very simple,” he added.

The Malampaya natural gas field is a deep water gas-to-power project with 2,700 megawatts total generating capacity located in the offshore area of Palawan, Philippines. It provides 30 percent of the power generation supply in Luzon.

Marcos maintained the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) recognition that the area, which is being claimed by China, is a part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

“The nine-dash line covers just about the entire West Philippine Sea. We, on the other hand, have established our baselines, which have been recognized and accredited by Unclos and, therefore, there is that conflict. So what happens now, especially when it comes to exploration in — for energy — for our energy needs are which law will apply. Because we say this is part of Philippine territory and therefore Philippine law should apply,” he said.

“It may have to come down to a compromise that will just limit that application, the application of laws maybe to the vessels that are involved in this exploration and exploitation of whatever natural gas fields we can access,” he added.

Marcos said that despite several issues, particularly involving disputes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Philippines will maintain a stable relationship with its neighboring country, noting the importance of open communication lines to avoid any untoward incidents

Marcos earlier said he urged China to finish the creation of the team who will handle a high level of communication with the Philippines in the light of a near-collision incident involving Chinese and Philippine Coast Guard vessels in waters around Ayungin Shoal last week.

It happened when the Chinese vessel allegedly cut off the Philippine ship.

Meanwhile, Marcos expressed confidence that the emerging bilateral defense guidelines between the United States and the Philippines would be “responsive to the challenges that we face and that approaches and finds ways to solve those problems or challenges on a multidimensional basis.”

This as additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the US were identified and a pact for the modernization of alliance cooperation was made. (SunStar Philippines)