Philippines to lift moratorium on marine scientific research vs foreigners - Esperon
Foreign governments and institutions would soon be allowed again to conduct marine scientific research within the Philippine waters, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Friday.
This as a National Maritime Summit would be held on October 29-30 at Manila Hotel where stakeholders from the government, academe, think-tanks, community-based and non-government organizations, maritime industry organizations, environmentalists, and scientists are expected to attend.
"The summit will give emphasis to the policy direction of the Duterte administration that the maritime interest of the Philippines rest on sustainable development and safeguarding our national patrimony, marine wealth and national territory," Esperon said.
He said the summit would also be the vehicle for the Philippines to pursue robust marine scientific research (MSR).
"We are already building our capabilities for marine scientific research by acquiring state-of-the-art research and survey vessels. MSR is the first step for the sustainable development of the marine resources which will benefit both Filipinos and the rest of mankind," he said.
"So, we will build the national academic research fleet and we will lift shortly the moratorium on marine scientific research by foreign government and institutions," Esperon said.
Last year, the government suspended issuing permits to conduct maritime scientific research by foreigners after some foreign vessels, particularly Chinese, conducted research on Philippine waters without securing first the necessary permits.
Other foreign researchers were not given permits because they refused to allow Filipinos to join them.
"So we are opening up again the MSR processing, permits for MSR simply because we believe that the academe have to be deployed and do research for us and for all of mankind to get to know more of our maritime domain," Esperon said.
He said those who would conduct scientific research on Philippine maritime areas only need to seek permission from the government.
Aside from pursuing robust maritime scientific research, Esperon said the government would also invest on credible defense posture and maritime law enforcement capability.
"And based on studies and as practiced in some parts of the world, spending about 2 percent of the gross domestic product for national defense would be sufficient. We shall invest towards a credible defense posture and maritime law enforcement capability," he said.
Currently, he said the share of the country's national defense to GDP is about 1.1 percent.
"But we want to emphasize that whatever we spend on defense should be able to even strengthen our position on developing our maritime domain, especially the West Philippine Sea into what we call the blue economy. For all these efforts, we expect to get more from our seas, from our maritime domain," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS