Lorenzana: Oil exploration device found in Pangasinan being probed
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine government is looking into a report that equipment for oil exploration, bearing Chinese markings, was found near a Pangasinan town.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the equipment had been sent to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to be studied.
“We don’t know what it’s for, because that was found by fishermen,” Lorenzana said on Wednesday (July 21). “Until then, we can’t conclude what they are,” he said at a briefing.
An expert identified the object as an ocean bottom seismometer, according to the Peoples Development Institute (PDI), a partner of fishers group Bigkis ng Mangingisda.
The equipment, which looked like a buoy, was found within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, some 129 nautical miles northwest of Infanta, Pangasinan, last July 1. It was turned over to the Philippine Navy on Tuesday (July 20).
The fishermen first sent the object to PDI for identification.
PDI executive director Aurea Miclat Teves said in an interview with Inquirer that the website of the China Geological Equipment Group Co. Ltd, which claimed to be a state-owned geological equipment manufacturing enterprise, reported producing an OBS similar to what the fishermen found.
OBS was believed to be used to detect man-made and natural seismic activity for oil exploration.
But PDI expressed concern that China could be conducting “scientific research, or more likely oil exploration” within the Philippines’ EEZ without permission from the Philippine government.
Bayan Muna on Wednesday called on Congress to investigate whether China is already conducting oil exploration in Philippine EEZ.
“Aside from harvesting our giant clams and depleting our fisheries resources, this may be the primary reason why China’s coast guard and maritime militia bar Filipino fishermen from fishing in Scarborough Shoal,” said Rep. Carlos Zarate, House deputy minority leader.
“They may be mainly looking for oil in our EEZ,” Zarate said.
“Malacanang should not dismiss this issue outright and once again protect China’s imperial interests,” he added.