The Malacañang said on Sunday that Manila will send an expert to Beijing in the next few days to lodge a complaint over the alleged harassment of a Department of Energy oil exploration vessel by Chinese patrol boats west of Palawan province.
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs has sent the Chinese Embassy in Manila a note verbale that expresses the government's "deep concern" over the harassment issue to Filipino vessel exploring natural gas and oil sources within its territorial waters, GMA News said.
Secretary Ramon Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office identified the expert to be Atty. Henry Bensurto.
Carandang said, "I think if he is going to China, it will happen in the next few days. He will likely explain the legal and technical bases on why we insist China had no right to enter that area in Western Palawan."
"It did not happen in the Spratlys or in the contested area. It happened in Reed Bank in Western Palawan, within Philippine territory. The other claimants to the Spratlys do not contest this," added the secretary.
On the other hand, China allegedly claimed that the oil explorers were inside Chinese water boundaries.
The Chinese Embassy reaffirmed it sovereignty over the disputed Spratly Islands. The Embassy spokesperson said, "Ever since ancient times, China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters."
"The Chinese side maintains that the related disputes should be resolved through peaceful negotiations."
The Spratly Islands are a group of 750 reefs, islets and islands in the South China Sea that is being claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Viet Nam.
There are no people originally inhabiting the area but the seabed is believed to be a source of 440 million barrels of oil and 3.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
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