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Duterte move to stop foreign research in Benham Rise seen as ’squid tactics’

/ 12:11 PM February 06, 2018

Opposition lawmakers on Tuesday downplayed as mere “squid tactics” President Duterte’s order to halt foreign explorations in the Benham Rise (Philippine Rise).

In a statement, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the President’s move was “his usual squid tactics to divert attention to the core issue-his administration’s surrender of our sovereignty to foreign powers especially to China.”

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While he welcomed the move, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also called on the government to compel foreign researchers to surrender their findings and data to make sure these would not be used to “annex and militarize” the territory.

“While Pres. Duterte’s order halting all foreign marine studies at Benham Rise is a welcome move, Chinese researchers should be compelled by the Philippine government to turn over their findings to their Filipino counterparts who can use the data for the benefit of our country,” Zarate said in a statement.

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“The Chinese and Philippine governments should also ensure that the data gathered would not be used by China to annex and militarize the resource-rich area, just like what it did in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol earlier bared that Duterte has ordered the suspension of foreign researches in the disputed territory during their Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday.

READ: Duterte orders stop to all foreign research in Benham — Piñol

The order also came after an exclusive report by the Inquirer revealed several authentic aerial photos of China’s “almost finished transformation” of seven disputed reefs in the South China Sea into military fortresses.

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

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TAGS: Akbayan, Bayan Muna, Benham Rise, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Chinese government, Duterte, foreign researchers, Piñol, Tom Villarin, West Philippine Sea
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