MANILA— Echoing the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) explanation regarding the reported approval of a Chinese-conducted research in Benham Rise, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Saturday said all nations expressing interest to study the area faces “same rules.”
“Because we have sovereign rights over Benham Rise, since it was awarded to us as an extended continental shelf, we have the right to exclusively explore and even conduct scientific research in it,” he said.
He added that the exclusive rights include “consent” if foreigners would also want to conduct research.
“For as long as we consent, it would be legal,” he explained. “The secretary of Foreign Affairs said that the same rules would apply to any country that wants to conduct research in Benham Rise.”
Following the law, any research activity in the area requires a Filipino on board the ship, including the sharing of their research results.
Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano earlier questioned the DFA for supposedly approving the request of a Chinese think tank to conduct a scientific research in Benham Rise. This, while allegedly rejecting a French-based organization having similar request.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano did not specifically mentioned what countries were already rejected or granted access to the continental shelf but explained there’s “nothing suspicious” about approval or disapproval of scientific research.
“Whether they are Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Singaporeans, et cetera, if they comply, we will approve. If they do not comply, we will not approve,” he said.