MANILA, Philippines – Presidential spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque has confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte wants Filipino scientists to have an exclusive marine researching the Philippine Rise and ordered the cancellation of pending foreign applications for research.
The President himself raised the issue at last Monday’s Cabinet meeting.
Malacañang said this is to assert the sovereign rights of the country over the Philippine Rise.
“I confirm that the President ordered that henceforth, only Filipino scientists are allowed to do scientific research, lay submarine cables and explore and exploit natural resources in the Philippine Rise,” Roque said.
The government, however, clarified that the freedom of navigation in the area remains.
It also does not mention if the government plans to provide a budget to support the research of Filipino scientists in the extended continental shelf.
Malacañang also reported that currently, all scientific research of other counties in the area are already finished.
All in all, there have been 46 foreign research applications in the Philippine Rise from the year 2000, of which 28 were approved including the two applications from a Chinese foreign institution.
However, scientists of foreign institutions may still conduct research in the Philippine Rise if the National Security Council particularly National Security Adviser, Hermogenes Esperon permits it.
“Any foreign entity who wishes to conduct research can apply to the usual body and in addition, there must be personal approval of the National Security Adviser,” said Roque.
In his Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said President Duterte gave a directive to the Department of National Defense to deploy ships as well as the Philippine Airforce to conduct flyovers and monitor the area.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said if Malacañang really ordered to stop the marine exploration of China in the Philippine Rise, the government must seize the data that the Chinese scientists were already able to gather.
“So that foreign country cannot use the same at the expense if the Philippines Security and Development,” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said.
Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano, however, believes that marine research in the Philippine Rise must not be stopped but the government must be careful in giving permits to foreign institutions and organizations.
“It’s open for everybody like what DFA stated but when it comes to China, we should be careful because they have the history of grabbing our islands,” Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said. – Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue