Chinese ship arrives for Benham Rise research

CHINA'S research vessel Ke Xue Hao is now in the country for the conduct of a marine scientific study of the Philippine waters, Magdalo Party-list Representative Gary Alejano said Wednesday, January 24.

According to Alejano, he received a report that the Chinese ship arrived in Philippine territory on January 22, two days earlier than the granted duration of the study which begins January 24.

Alejano urged the Philippine government to monitor the ongoing activities of the Chinese ship.

“What we should make sure now is the compliance of China to all the requirements demanded by the Philippine government as conditions to the permit issued. In particular, we should be wary of the sharing of information that will be culled from the said expedition. Filipino scientists on board should be given equal access to all results of the research activity,” he stressed in a statement.

Alejano refuted the recent statement of Malacañang that Filipino scientists cannot afford to conduct their own reseach at the Benham Rise, located off Eastern Luzon.

"It is not because our scientists do not have the ability to conduct research. It is because the government does not allot sufficiently for it," he said.

“This administration has shown no interest and support on strengthening our presence in Benham. Thus, it has no ascendancy to say that Filipinos cannot conduct research in the area given its lack of support,” Alejano added.

Alejano pointed out that there have already been expeditions in the area conducted by Filipinos even before the country was given jurisdiction over the contested waters in 2012.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that they have allowed the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences to be joined by the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute to study the Benham Rise and the waters in Mindanao.

The marine scientific research will end on February 25.

The United Nations, in a 2012 ruling, gave the Philippines sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Benham Rise, thus the country could explore, exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources there.

Benham Rise was renamed the Philippine Rise following an executive order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2017. (SunStar Philippines)
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