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Alejano: DFA granted China’s request for marine research in Benham Rise

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano yesterday bared he had received information that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) approved the request of the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) for a marine scientific research (MSR) in Philippine waters. As a requirement, they will be joined by the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI).

The project’s area will allegedly cover Eastern Luzon, where Benham Rise is located, and Eastern Mindanao.
“We should be careful and prudent in granting any access to our waters, especially with China, which is known to claim 80 percent of our EEZ in South China Sea through its expansive nine-dash line,” Alejano stressed.
Interestingly, Alejano said there is a similar request from a French-based non-profit organization, Tara Expeditions Foundation, to conduct marine research in the general area where the Chinese will be conducting MSR. However, the request was declined, according to Alejano.
“Provided that we need additional resources and capabilities to study and explore our eastern waters, particularly the Benham Rise, the French-based non-profit organization is way preferable than a Chinese national scientific think tank,” the solon said.
“The Philippines has no territorial conflict with France, vis-à-vis China which has shown aggression and great interest on our territories. Geographically speaking, France is not an immediate security threat to us compared to China,” Alejano said.
“If in terms of the capability of Tara, I think it is also safe to assume that it is competent as much as IO-CAS, having already accomplished high-level scientific research missions across the world’s oceans,” he added.
It can be recalled that China has sought several times for a permit to conduct research in Benham Rise since 2015, but all were rejected because of denial of involvement of Filipino experts, according to DFA’s Maritime and Oceans Affairs Office.
“China has been adamant on exploring Benham Rise and they have no intention of involving Filipino scientists. It seems that China was only forced to collaborate with UP-MIS for the sake of getting the permit. Given this initial behavior, we should be worried on whether the Philippines will be given equal access to all information culled by the joint project,” Alejano said
“So why China? All things considered, allowing a Chinese national think tank to conduct a so-called scientific research over Philippine waters, even with participation of Filipinos, is careless and absurd. What is really the intention of the Duterte administration in allowing such activity at the expense of our national security?” Alejano asked.
Chinese vessels were spotted surveying Benham Rise for three months in 2016 without the knowledge and permission of DFA. It turned out later that Duterte gave them the authority without his officials and the Filipino people knowing it.
Benham Rise is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf awarded by the United Nations in 2012 which provides us the exclusive sovereign rights over it. The area is believed to be rich in minerals and gas.

1 comment

  • Aling Dionisia

    Tama si Alejano, ang susunod nito, gagawa na naman ng artificial island ang China at magpapakita ng lumang mapa at sasabihin sa kanila ang Benham Rise!
    Bakit hindi natuto ang pilipinas sa ginawa ng China sa China Sea? Ano ngayon ang magagawa ng Pilipinas sa isla na sinakop ng China. Samantala ang France hindi naghahabol ng isla sa atin..

    Aling Dionisia Saturday, 13 January 2018 01:25 Comment Link

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