Malacañang: Foreigners can still apply for Benham Rise research

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said that while President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a stop to foreign scientific study and exploration in Benham Rise (Philippine Rise), foreign entities can still apply for future research in the continental shelf.

"He has caused the revocation of foreign entities to conduct scientic research in Philippine Rise, henceforth all foreign entities who wish to conduct research must apply with the interagency technical working group and get personal approval from the National Security Adviser," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

He was speaking on Tuesday, February 6 at a news briefing after the 22nd Cabinet meeting on Monday, February 5. Duterte had made the order during the meeting.

However, Roque confirmed that Duterte indeed declared that "only Filipinos now can conduct scientific research in the Benham Rise." This was announced earlier by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol through a Facebook post.

Roque said Duterte made the decision to cancel all existing permits granted to foreign entities since all scientific research had already ceased by the time of the Cabinet meeting.

He confirmed that the 33-day study of ocean circulation by the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute had already "concluded."

He also confirmed that all those foreign institutions who have had their licenses revoked can merely reapply for new licenses.

The only difference is the additional requirement of seeking approval from the interagency technical working group and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The "Marine Scientific Research Technical Working Group" is chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs, and has as members the Department of National Defense, National Coast Watch Secretariat, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculturem Department of Energy, Department of Tourism, Department of Evironment and Natural Resources, and University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute and National Institute of Geological Sciences. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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