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No ban on foreign explorers in PH Rise, only stricter application process – Palace

Underwater flag-raising in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) on Independence Day. PHOTO from The Extra Mile Productions

Branching corals, home to reef fishes like damselfishes, butterfishes and cardinal fishes, are found in the resource-rich Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) — Oceana/UPLB

 

Foreign entities could still conduct maritime research in the resource-rich Philippine Rise, but President Rodrigo Duterte wanted a stricter application process for them, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said foreign researchers, who want to conduct scientific research in the Philippine Rise, must first seek the approval of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

He said that all licenses granted to foreign entities to carry out scientific research in the Philippine Rise were now “deemed cancelled.”

“They are all cancelled. If they want to apply, they must, in addition, get the personal approval of the National Security Adviser,” he said.

Roque said Duterte wanted Filipinos given priority to conduct research in the 13-million-hectare underwater plateau off eastern Luzon.

The Palace official, however, clarified that Duterte was not banning foreign individuals or group from conducting scientific research in the area.

“It’s not really a ban,” he noted.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had earlier confirmed that it has granted China the permission to conduct maritime research  in the Philippine Rise.

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has defended the move, even asserting that allowing China to do research in the Philippine Rise did not violate any law.

But Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said it was “dumb” of the Philippines to allow China to explore Philippine Rise despite its disrespect for Manila’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

Despite the United Nations arbitral ruling, which favored the Philippines’ diplomatic protest and invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea, China continues to militarize its reclaimed islands in the disputed sea.

The Inquirer obtained aerial photographs of the alleged militarization at the South China Sea.

 

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

The photographs show that China is almost finished transforming seven reefs claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly archipelago into island fortresses.   /kga

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