President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stood firm that the Philippine Law will govern the possible joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) with China as he reiterated that the WPS belongs to the Philippines.

In an interview with the press, Marcos acknowleged that this “roadblock” is causing the delay of the joint exploration project.

“Kasi kini-claim ng China kanila ‘yun, eh atin naman talaga iyan. So, sinasabi ng Pilipinas, basta’t ‘yung batas kailangan masundan ‘yung sa Pinas. Ang sinasabi naman ng Chinese, hindi, amin iyan eh, kaya’t kailangan masundan is Chinese. Kaya ‘yun talaga ang roadblock doon (China is claiming [WPS] as its property, but that is ours. For the Philippines’ part, we have to follow the law. But the Chinese are saying that they own that and they want their own terms to be followed. That’s the roadblock there),” Marcos said.

Marcos also hinted that the government is already finding a way in case the initial negotiations between China fails.

“We’ll have to find a way kasi kailangan na natin eh (we really need it now). We already need, kung mahanap dyan kailangan na talaga ng Pilipinas (whatever resources we could find because the Philippines really need that now),” he said.

“‘Yung China maliit na bagay sa kanila ‘yun eh. Sa atin malaking bagay ‘yan. So, kailangan natin ipaglaban at mapakinabangan kung meron ngang oil talaga (It’s a small thing for China. But for us, it’s a big help. So, we have to pursue that and we will benefit if there is really oil there),” he added.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that the Philippines and China is on “working level talks” on the possible joint exploration in WPS after the Duterte administration terminated the 2018 memorandum of understanding (MOU) of the project due to constitutional constraints and issues on the country’s sovereignty before Marcos assumed into office.

During the sidelines of the APEC leaders meeting last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resolve the dispute through “friendly consultation”.

Marcos was quoted to have said “Everybody, including the Chinese, says we follow UNCLOS and international law.”

Chinas has continues to ignore the 2016 Hague ruling that invalidated their claims to the entirety of the South China Sea.