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Solon: Gov’t should seize data from foreign Benham explorers

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH A diver explores the seabed of Benham Rise believed to be rich in marine resources and underwater minerals. —INQUIRER PHOTO

The government should seize all data gathered by foreign maritime explorations in the Benham Rise, opposition lawmaker Rep. Edcel Lagman urged on Tuesday, citing “security and developmental” reasons.

Lagman issued the statement after Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of all foreign maritime scientific studies in the territory.

“If it is true that President Rodrigo Duterte stopped all scientific studies being conducted by foreigners in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), then for security and developmental reasons, all data so far gathered must be confiscated by or turned over to the Philippine government to preclude their unauthorized use by foreigners,” said the Albay 1st District representative in a statement.

According to Piñol, Duterte issued the order during their Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday.

The order also came on the heels of an exclusive report by the Inquirer which has revealed several authentic aerial photos of China’s “almost finished transformation” of seven disputed reefs in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) into air and naval fortresses.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: New photos show China is nearly done with its militarization of South China Sea

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