Philippines not favoring China in Benham Rise research, Palace says
The Duterte administration is not favoring only China for allowing it to conduct a research in Benham Rise or Philippine Rise as the government also gave its nod to three other countries, Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said request applications to conduct research by the United States, Japan and South Korea have also been approved.
This was the information relayed to him by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, he said.
"This hopefully puts to rest the issue that the current administration is favoring China in the issue of Benham Rise," he said.
The Duterte administration has been criticized for allowing China to conduct scientific research in Benham Rise off eastern part of Luzon amid the territorial row between the two countries in South China Sea.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the scientific research applications in Benham Rise and Luzon Strait areas from 2000 to January 2018 were the following:
US has 13 applications and they were all granted; China has 18, only two were allowed; Japan has nine applications and they were all granted; Korea, four, and all were granted; while Germany's two applications were all denied.
Roque clarified he never said Filipinos were not allowed to do scientific research in Benham Rise.
"As Filipinos, we do not need consent to conduct scientific investigation in Benham Rise because it is subject to our sovereign rights which includes the right to conduct scientific research. The Government of the Philippines does not need, therefore, to give a permits to Filipinos in this regard. We have the sovereign rights to explore and exploit the resources in Benham Rise," he said.
"To reiterate, I never said that Filipinos cannot conduct research in Benham rise. On the contrary, only Filipinos can do so even without express consent of our state," Roque added.
Roque issued a clarification after Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, hit Roque when he justified in a press briefing why the Philippines allowed China to conduct research in Benham Rise instead of Filipinos.
During the briefing, he has said, "no one can do it because, apparently, it’s capital intensive," referring to Filipinos. Celerina Monte/DMS