The Philippines is counting on the U.S. and its allies to play a crucial role in its plans to explore energy resources in the disputed South China Sea, according to Manila’s envoy to Washington.

The country is seeking to parlay its deepening security ties with Washington into broader economic benefits, Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said.

"When the time comes that we are going to start exploring it, we’ll have the options to be able to see how we can secure the expedition,” Romualdez said in an interview in Manila. "We’re working closely with our allies, not only the U.S. but also Japan and Australia."