Duterte stops all foreign-led exploration in Philippine Rise
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said President Rodrigo Duterte last night ordered the cessation of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists in the 13-million hectare continental shelf east of Luzon formerly called the Benham Rise.
“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,” Duterte said, as cited by Piñol.
Piñol said Duterte proceeded to order the Department of National Defense to deploy Navy vessels and the Philippine Air Force to conduct fly overs in the area to check on the presence of foreign vessels.
The Department of Agriculture, which issues the Gratuitous Permits for Foreign Marine Explorations through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), then offered to dispatch its two new Multi-Mission Off-shore Vessels BRP Lapulapu and BRP Francisco Dagohoy to the area to monitor the presence of foreign groups.
Piñol said the President issued the categorical position of the Philippine government following a statement issued by a low-level diplomat of another country who insinuated that the Philippine Rise, formerly known as the Benham Rise, does not belong to any particular country.