Duterte orders stop of foreign research in Philippine Rise
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered to halt all foreign research in the Philippine Rise off eastern Luzon in order to stop all the "noise" after the Philippines allowed China to conduct a study in the area, an official said on Tuesday.
Duterte issued the directive during the 22nd Cabinet meeting in Malacanang on Monday as he also enjoined all members of the Cabinet to refer to the area as Philippine Rise and not as Benham Rise.
"I confirm that the President ordered that henceforth only Filipinos will be allowed to conduct scientific research, lay submarine cables and explore and exploit for national resources in the Philippine Rise," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
"Now all licenses for scientific research are deemed cancelled," he said.
But Roque, citing a report of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that all the scientific licenses granted to other countries to conduct research in the Philippine Rise had been concluded.
According to the DFA, the scientific research applications in Benham Rise and Luzon Strait Areas from 2000 to January 2018 were the following:
United States has 13 applications and they were all granted; China has 18, only two were allowed; Japan has nine applications and they were all granted; Korea, four, and all were granted; while Germany's two applications were all denied.
"(This) is probably why the President ordered that henceforth only Filipinos now can conduct scientific research and only Filipinos can explore and exploit national resources in the Benham Rise," he said.
Asked why the President ordered to stop scientific research by other countries in Philippine Rise, Roque in a radio interview, said, "well, what he said was to stop all the noise."
The Duterte administration has been criticized when it allowed China to conduct research in the Philippine Rise in the wake of the territorial disputes of the two countries in the South China Sea.
In particular, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has said it would be "dumb" of the Philippines to allow China to conduct a study in the Philippine Rise when it continues to refuse to comply with arbitral award to the Philippines by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea issue.
While the Filipinos are encouraged to conduct research in the Philippine Rise, Roque said there was no indication from the President that the government would provide funding.
"He just said ‘because our sovereign rights in Benham?in Philippine Rise is unquestioned, we do not need to share it with anyone as of now.’ He came up anyway with an assessment that as of now everything is preliminary and he even joked, ‘We have enough fish for the time being. We don’t need foreigners to assist us in getting our fish in the Philippine Rise’," he added.
The spokesman, however, clarified that later on foreigners could still secure license to conduct scientific research provided that they also secure permission from National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on top of other regular requirements.
"He says that although all scientific research permits are deemed cancelled, any new application, in addition to an application to be filed with the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group, will have to make a separate application with the Office of the National Security Adviser," he said.
As to the result of research conducted by China, Roque said it would be up to the Filipino co-researchers from the University of the Philippines to obtain the result. Celerina Monte/DMS