MANILA exclusively owns the 13-million-hectare undersea Philippine Rise, President Rodrigo Duterte maintained Friday, February 9.
"The Philippine Rise belongs to the Philippines. We will claim exclusive ownership of the economic zone," Duterte told reporters in Davao City.
Philippine Rise is a 13-million hectare undersea region that lies east of Luzon and off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora. It is believed to be a rich source of natural gas and other resources like heavy metals.
The President last week declared that no foreign research entities may be allowed the explore and study the area unless they secure approval from the National Security Adviser on top of the permit from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The President has also directed the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force to monitor the possible presence of foreign vessels in the Philippine Rise.
The Duterte government has come under fire for allowing China to conduct scientific research in the Philippine Rise.
The current administration earlier gave China a consent to study the Philippine Rise, despite Beijing's competing claims with the Philippines over the disputed South China Sea.
In April 2012, the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea noted that Philippine Rise is within the Philippines' continental shelf.
The UN Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf also approved in 2015 the Philippines' claim to make the undersea region as part of its extended continental shelf. (SunStar Philippines)