All marine explorations by foreign scientists at the Philippine Rise or Benham Rise are to come to an end at the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to The Manila Times Online on Wednesday(Feb 7).
Duterte also instructed the Philippine Navy to chase away any vessels fishing or conducting research in the 25-million hectare continental shelf east of Luzon which is known as Philippine Rise.
The order was issued by the president on Monday night after a cabinet meeting where he told his officials to refer to Benham Rise as Philippine Rise.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque the cessation of foreign research activities did not mean a ban. He said foreign entities could still conduct research upon the approval of the National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
He added that research done previously by China, the US, Japan, South Korea and Germany are finished and any new application must be authorized by the National Security Advisor.
Duterte ordered the Navy to deploy vessels and the Air Force to check on the presence of foreign vessels in Philippine Rise. The Department of Agriculture also dispatched two multi-mission offshore vessels to the area.
Senators Loren Legarda and Sherwin Gatchalian threw their support behind Duterte’s action.
“We have to protect and preserve what is rightfully ours under the Unclos and our laws for our future generations,” said Legarda, chairman of the Senate foreign relations and finance committee.