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Locsin: For now, only PH-flagged ships can conduct marine survey in EEZ

/ 08:00 PM August 14, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said only Philippine-flagged ships are allowed to conduct marine survey in the country’s waters for now.

In a series of Twitter exchange with maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal, Locsin underscored the need for clear rules and having the public informed.

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“So now tell me who do we give to or withhold from authority to survey? flag of the boat or nationality of the surveying group leasing it? Need to inform everyone. For now only Filipino-flagged ships allowed. We need clear rules,” Locsin said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief added that the country can also refuse to grant authority to marine survey.

“Well now it is clear: we can’t impose a ban but we can refuse to grant authority to marine survey. But my rule is all or nothing; everybody or nobody qualified,” Locsin said responding to Batongbacal, who said that a total ban would “not be a good idea” and would be “counter-productive.”

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“Without enough money, we have had to enter into cooperation agreements so that our scientists can use their ships, or we joined [international] research projects that also cover our areas of research,” Batongbacal pointed out.

Locsin earlier said that he would“universalize” his ban on marine survey ships “by adding China” in the list of countries whose survey vessels are prohibited in Philippine waters.

He later backtracked after being informed that they cannot be banned under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
“I am reliably informed that under UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) we cannot ban marine surveys but that marine surveys need our permission to be conducted,” Locsin said. /kga

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