The President stressed the Philippines’ authority on the Philippine Rise formerly known as the Benham Rise by ordering to stop all foreign explorations.
“Let me be very clear about this: the Philippine Rise is ours and any insinuation that it is open to everybody should end with this declaration,” President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was quoted as saying by Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol in a Facebook post.
Duterte made his declaration at the start of the 22nd Cabinet Meeting in Malacañang on February 5. He has directed three departments namely the Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine Air Force (PAF), Department of National Defense (DND), and the DA.
The Facebook post further read, “President Rody Duterte last night ordered the cessation of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists and directed the Philippine Navy to ‘chase out’ any vessel fishing or conducting researches in the 13-million hectare continental shelf east of Luzon formerly called the Benham Rise.”
DND was directed to deploy Navy Vessels, while PAF was ordered to conduct flyovers to check if there are present foreign vessels in the area.
Duterte also ordered the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to dispatch two new Multi-Mission Off-shore Vessels BRP Lapulapu and BRP Francisco Dagohoy to monitor foreign activities in the area.
The BFAR, under the DA, is responsible for issuing the Gratuitous Permits for Foreign Marine Explorations.
Controversy surrounded the Philippine Rise when Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that foreign explorations are allowed, and when a Chinese vessel designed to conduct marine research entered the Philippine territory.
Piñol further wrote that this “position drastically changed when a statement issued by a foreign low-level diplomat suggested the Philippines does not own the whole of the Rise.”
“Henceforth, only Filipino scientists will be allowed to conduct researches and exploration in the Philippine Rise,” President Duterte declared.