THE Energy department said it is currently working with the Office of the Solicitor General on how to respond after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled out joint energy exploration with foreign partners in disputed waters.

“The DoE (Department of Energy) will work closely with the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice in determining the next steps to be taken on the matter,” the DoE said in a statement on Saturday.

In a ruling dated January but released only last week, the SC voided a 2005 government deal with China and Vietnam for joint gas and oil explorations in South China Sea.

The SC declared the 2005 agreement unconstitutional because it allowed foreign entities to explore for Philippine natural resources without full government supervision.

The Constitution requires that exploration, development and use of Philippine natural resources be under full state control and supervision.

“In a decision released in full only yesterday (Friday) but promulgated on Jan. 10, 2023, the Supreme Court invalidated as unconstitutional the tripartite agreement for joint marine seismic undertaking (JMSU) in the agreement area in the South China Sea,” the DoE said.

The JMSU was signed in 2005 by the China National Offshore Oil Corp., Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp., and Philippine National Oil Co.

Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla has said that the Philippines and China both agreed to resume talks on exploration in the Recto Bank, which is covered by the Service Contract 72. — Ashley Erika O. Jose