Duterte halts foreign exploration in Benham Rise

By , on February 6, 2018

No marine explorations by foreign researchers are allowed in the Benham Rise, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on Tuesday said that the president issued the order during the 22nd Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday.

“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,” Piñol said.

He added that Duterte gave a directive to the Department of National Defense to deploy Navy vessels and to the Philippine Air Force to conduct fly overs in the area to check for the presence of foreign vessels.

According to Piñol, the government’s stance in allowing foreigners to conduct a study in the Benham Rise changed due to a statement issued by a “low-level diplomat of another country who insinuated that the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, does not belong to any particular country.”

“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,” Piñol quoted Duterte as saying.

“Henceforth, only Filipino scientists will be allowed to conduct researches and exploration in the Philippine Rise.”