Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin insisted that the government does not need to ask China’s permission to conduct oil explorations in the West Philippine Sea, despite the neighboring country’s claims.

“Within our territorial limits naman ‘yung mga oil exploration na ‘yun, ba’t tayo magpapaalam sa kung sino, eh atin? Kung atin, atin,” Gazmin said in an interview Thursday.

The defense chief made the remark after the Department of Energy revealed that it is inviting investors to explore possible fuel deposits in several areas, including some located in the West Philippine Sea.

Concerns over the offer arose after China protested, saying it is unlawful for any country or company to explore oil and gas in sea areas under Chinese jurisdiction without the Chinese government’s permission.

Gazmin said he does not believe that tension will arise from the offer despite China’s protest, but assured that the exploration areas and investors will be protected.

“Kung magalit sila (China), hindi natin mako-control ‘yung kanilang emotions, but then we still stick to the fact that these are within our territory, it is ours. Sabi nga ng Presidente what is ours is ours, very definite ‘yan… ginagawa natin lahat ng makakaya natin nang sa ganun maprotektahan natin ang atin,” he said. (John Roson)

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