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Davao businessman Dennis Uy is eyeing oil and gas explorations in Recto Bank, northwest of Palawan in the West Philippine Sea.

Uy owns the Udenna Corporation, which is part of a consortium that owns DITO Telecommunity, which is partially owned by a Chinese state-owned telecommunications company.

The Recto Bank, found in the Kalayaan group of islands, is part of the disputed area of the West Philippine Sea due to its closeness to the nine-dash-line claim of China.

A national news agency reported that Uy’s Udenna Energy Corporation has submitted its tenders for two areas in the Recto Bank during the Department of Energy’s (DOE) opening of bids held Monday (September 14). The areas are nominated blocks under the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP).

This is Uy’s first venture into oil and gas exploration. He is also known for being the former chairman of the controversial DITO Communications, which is also partially owned by China.

The bids are currently undergoing post-qualification and final evaluation processes. Other bidders for oil explorations included the Troika Giant Power Corporation, which is eyeing an area in the Mindoro-Cuyo basin, and PXP Energy, also eyeing an area in the West Philippine Sea. PXP is owned by Filipino businessman Manuel Pangilinan.

Currently, petroleum explorations in the Recto Bank are on hold due to the 2014 moratorium issued by then-president Benigno Aquino III. The country filed a case against China in the previous year after Chinese vessels were seen patrolling the Recto Bank waters illegally, prompting the country to bring the dispute to an international court.

Despite a 2016 ruling that granted the Recto Bank as part of Philippine territory, China continues to assert its claims in the Kalayaan group of islands.