MANILA -- Foreign researchers who want to conduct scientific research in the Benham Rise (renamed Philippine Rise) will now face stricter approval when they apply for their licenses for exploration, MalacaAang said Tuesday.
??Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a Palace briefing, said that this comes after Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Joel Montales confirmed that all research had already been concluded in the area.??
Montales is also chair of the inter-agency technical working group responsible for the grant of licenses to conduct scientific research in the Philippine Rise.??
Roque explained that following this development, President Rodrigo R. Duterte had ordered the revocation of all licenses given to foreign researchers.??
Moreover, he said that foreign researchers would now have to seek approval from the inter-agency technical working group and this time also the National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
??Henceforth, all foreign companies that wish to conduct such scientific research must apply to the inter-agency and must get approval from national security adviser. All existing licenses are being revoked, Roque said.??
'Not a ban'??
Roque's statement came after Agriculture Secretary Manny PiAol, in his Facebook page, said that Duterte had ordered the cessation of all foreign explorations in the Philippine Rise.??
The Palace Spokesperson clarified that this did not mean that foreign researchers were banned from conducting research in the Philippine Rise.??
It's not really a ban I guess it's just a directive that we want Filipinos to do it as much as possible. That we're reserving it for Filipinos, Roque said.??
He (Duterte) just said because our sovereign rights in Philippine Rise is unquestioned, we do not need to share it with anyone as of now, he added, noting that everything is preliminary.??
From year 2000 to present, Roque said that five countries have applied for licenses for foreign research namely the US, China, Japan, Korea, and Germany but not all were granted.
??All these researches from 2000 to the present have concluded, Roque said.??
Roque further clarified that government still allowed access to the Philippine Rise as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allowed freedom of navigation.
??Under UNCLOS, everyone is entitled to freedom of navigation so navigation can proceed but henceforth no scientific research will be allowed, Roque said.??
Roque, meanwhile, assured that all results of foreign scientific research would be shared to Filipinos. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency