China research in PH Rise poses no danger to country—Cayetano
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said the government’s move allowing China to conduct marine research in the Philippine Rise off eastern Luzon was actually favorable to the Philippines and poses no danger to the country.
The Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, is a 13-million hectare underwater plates believed to be rich in oil, gas and mineral resources.
In 2012, the United Nations (UN) ruled that the Philippine Rise was part of the country’s exclusive economic zone, which gave the Philippines “sovereign rights” to explore and exploit the resources in the area.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano had earlier expressed concern over the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) approval of China’s request to conduct a marine scientific research in the Philippine Rise while Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio described the DFA’s move as “dumb.”
But Cayetano said many experts from different countries have made their research in the Philippine Rise even before it was recognized as part of the Philippines in 2012.
“You know many countries have done research in the Benham Rise before na-award sa atin as continental shelf. And pabor sa Pilipinas ang more research doon because under our regulations, there has to be a Filipino aboard and they have to share their data,” he said in an ambush interview.
He said the law allows foreign research in the gas-rich region as long as there is a Filipino scientist on board and that all their findings are shared with the government.
“Now, if China will share their scientific interest, findings, expertise with us, pabor sa atin yun (that would be favorable to us),” he said.
“That’s part of the agreement kaya sila pinayagan (that is why they were allowed) and that’s why we have a Filipino aboard para to make sure din na yung shinare mo yun din yung findings niyo talaga,” he added.
The country’s top diplomat answered earlier criticisms that DFA had turned down a similar request for research by a French nonprofit organization, Tara Expeditions Foundation.
“So ang nangyari? Unang-una sa French, iba yung ruta na inaplayan nila and then secondly sabi nila walang space for a Filipino scientist. So hindi tayo namimili, di ba?” he said.
(So, what happened? At first for the French, they had applied for a different route, and secondly they said they don’t have a space allotted for a Filipino scientist. So, we are not choosing on what country wanting to conduct research.)
“But as I was saying pinapalaki yun parang China lang yun andun but many countries hindi ko na isa-isahin tapos na magresearch dun even before binigay sa atin,” he added.
(But the issue had been blown up, making it appear China was only making research there but actually many countries, I don’t want to specifically mention each one, are doing research even before it was given to us.)
Cayetano said allowing China to conduct research in the Philippine Rise pose no risk to the country.
“This area is not disputed. So walang danger whatsoever na may mag-claim niyan, giyera yan pagka-ano and worldwide issue yan pag ka ano which is the difference with the West Philippine Sea which is disputed by not only two countries but more than two countries,” he said.
(No danger whatsoever that another country would claim that, that would be war when… and that would be worldwide issue because it was far different from the West Philippine Sea.) /jpv
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