National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. denied on Thursday that the Philippines gave “preferential treatment” to China following its maritime research at the Philippine Rise.
“The Philippine government gave no preferential treatment to China on its request to conduct maritime scientific research at Philippine Rise and did not reject the French Tara Expedition Foundation on similar venture contrary to claims by a solon,” Esperon said in a statement.
He said China’s research in the resource-rich continental shelf was granted “without prejudice to the country’s territorial integrity.”
“The government granted China’s MSR (marine scientific research) at the Philippines Rise on a short duration venture without prejudice to the country’s territorial integrity contrary to insinuations by other sectors,” he noted.
Esperon also said that China has submitted 18 MSR applications for Philippine Rise underwater exploratory mission, but only two were granted.
“The French think tank was not singled-out on similar venture to (favor) China since its application to conduct MSR is only in the internal waters of Taytay, Palawan, and was not intended for the Philippine Rise,” he explained.
Aside from the French outfit, Esperson said that five other foreign countries including China, United States, Japan, Korea, and Germany, have submitted applications to conduct MSR at Philippine Rise and in the Luzon Strait Areas.
“Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano blasted the government for allowing China to venture on MSR on Philippine waters while rejecting similar request from the French think tank,” he said.
“The controversial approval of China’s research in Philippine Rise was hype and linked to the South China Sea issue, apparently to generate intrigue in the bilateral dynamics between China and the Philippines.”
“It was learned that the government did not act on the French MSR request as it failed to comply certain requirements provided by law,” he also said.
Among the intentions of the French think tank relative to MSR venture at Philippine Rise, Esperon said, was to conduct sampling/bio-prospecting of corals, which is prohibited under Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation Act).
“The other basis for not acting (on) the French MSR application is their refusal to allow the presence of Filipino scientist on-board the research vessel since it is too small to accommodate additional passenger,” he disclosed.
Esperon said that of the five countries, the US has the most number of MSR requests – 13 – all of which the government granted.
Further, Esperon said that the government approved all nine MSR applications of Japan as well as four MSR applications of Korea, but denied the two MSR requests of Germany. /kga
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