Duterte vows not to let other countries exploit Philippine Rise
President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed not to allow other countries to exploit Philippine Rise as it only belongs to the Filipinos.
Duterte made the statement amid the ongoing territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
"Benham Rise (former name of Philippine Rise) is exclusively Philippine property," he said in a pre-recoded "Talk to the People" aired on Monday night.
Philippine Rise was mentioned first by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who was invited in Duterte's Talk to the People to give his thoughts on the West Philippine Sea issue.
Enrile was the Senate president when the April 2012 standoff between the Philippine and Chinese ships in Scarborough Shoal occurred. He also served as Defense minister of then late dictor Ferdinand Marcos.
"Mr. President, if I may suggest, we get what we can get from China on the West Philippine Sea, use it to strengthen our military capability and exploit Benham Rise - Philippine Rise," the 97-year old Enrile said.
Duterte said he has made it clear to the world that he would not allow any intrusion in the Philippine Rise.
"Well, of course, the right to innocent passage is everybody’s privilege. But to allow anybody, even to just try to exploit or to even to look in, you know, I will not allow them to do that because that belongs --- Philippine Rise belongs to the Filipino people," he said.
The Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea plateau approximately 160 nautical miles east of Luzon and off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora. It is located in the Central Basin Fault under the West Philippine Sea.
Scientific data on seismic, magnetic and other geological features of Benham Rise indicate that the region is an extension of the country’s continental shelf. The plateau is bigger than Luzon, or almost half the country’s total land area.
A full territorial claim was lodged by the Philippines with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on April 9, 2009. CLCS is the body facilitating the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In April 2012, UNCLOS recognized and officially approved the country's claim. In effect, the territory of the Philippines increased from 30 million hectares to 43 million hectares. Celerina Monte/DMS