It was reported that on Monday, Philippine Energy Secretary Jose Almendras promised investors that two areas in the northwest of Palawan province belonged to the Philippines and promised they could explore oil and gas resources there.
The two areas in discussion are in the South China Sea and are part of China's sovereign territory. But the Philippines bluntly ignores this fact and encourages foreign investment there in spite of Chinese protests.
What's worse, it rejects joint exploration with China, claiming the questioned area as being its own territory, in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
This is not the first time that the Philippines has defiantly aggravated the situation in the South China Sea. Last year, there were frequent tensions between the two countries on the matter.
China has voiced strong protest while behaving strictly according to international law and regional agreements.
But obviously, this does not help to control the aggressiveness of the Philippines. Almendras reportedly claimed that he was not afraid of China's serious protest and promised that it would not affect the interests of the investors.
But Manila should be prepared to bear the consequences of its behavior once the disputes worsen and threaten the stability of the area.
As a country that has been developing slowly since the 1980s and with a growing population, the Philippines faces severe economic and social problems at home. In this context, it cannot put more emphasis on its economic relations with China.
Meanwhile, domestic energy pressure leads to its tough stance on the South China Sea issue, along with US influence.
As a result, last year China witnessed Philippine President Benigno Aquino's sudden volte-face after his visit to China. Aquino made many friendly gestures during his visit and even used the term "husband and wife" to describe the Sino-Philippine relationship.
But he resumed his tough stance immediately after his visit. But it should be clear that China's bottom line about its sovereign rights has never changed.
Many Chinese netizens are calling for action. It is probably time for China to take some substantial moves, such as economic sanctions, to counter aggression from the Philippines since protests and condemnation have not worked.