Without revealing his source of information, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano slammed the Department of Foreign Affairs for supposedly allowing the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) to conduct research in Eastern Luzon, where Benham Rise is located, and Eastern Mindanao. File
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker on Friday claimed that the government has granted China’s request to conduct marine scientific research in Philippine waters, including the potentially resource-rich Benham Rise.
Without revealing the source of his information, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list) slammed the Department of Foreign Affairs for supposedly allowing the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) to conduct research in waters off Eastern Luzon, where Benham Rise is located, and off Eastern Mindanao.
The Chinese marine scientific research will take place on January 24 to February 25 this year.
Alejano said the Chinese researchers will be joined by the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute “as a requirement.”
Aside from the Chinese think tank, Alejano also claimed that a similar request for the same area was sent by French-based non-profit organization Tara Expeditions Foundation.
However, Tara Expeditions’ request was declined, he said.
The DFA has yet to reply to Philstar.com’s request for comment.
In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the Philippines’ undisputed claim to the Benham Rise.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed an Executive Order officially renaming Benham Rise to “Philippine Rise” to assert the country’s sovereignty there following reports that Chinese research vessels were spotted surveying the area in 2016.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had described the presence of these Chinese ships as “very concerning,” adding the vessels sometimes stayed for as long as a month reportedly in search of areas to park their submarines.
In response, China dismissed Lorenzana’s report, saying their ships were “exercising navigation freedoms and the right to innocent passage only.” The Philippine Navy now regularly patrols the said continental shelf.