Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, January 22, said the Philippines has sovereign rights to explore and exploit the natural resources found in the Benham Rise region.
“Sovereign right is different from title. Sovereign right is the exclusive right to explore and exploit the natural and non-living resources, natural resources found in the area,” Roque clarified in a Malacañang press briefing.
“Kasama po sa exclusive na karapatan ng sovereign rights ay ‘yung desisyon, iyong sovereign decision na payagan iyong ibang mga bansa na mag-conduct ng scientific studies,” he said.
In line with this, the President’s spokesperson mentioned two conditions that the Philippine government has imposed that Filipino scientists will participate and that the result of the scientific research will be shared with the Filipinos.
As for the Scarborough Shoal issue, Roque said it was covered by the obligation of good faith between China and the Philippines that the former would not reclaim nor create artificial islands.
He added that the two countries are both interested in maintaining their current good relations.
“Ang interest po ng Filipino ngayon ng Pilipinas ay yung karapatan ng ating mga mangingisda na magpatuloy sa kanilang hanap-buhay na pangingisda dyan sa borough ay iyan naman po’y nangyayari ngayon,” Roque underscored.
Meanwhile, with regard to the multi-billion Navy frigate deal issue, Roque said that Malacañan simply acted on a complaint it received.
“(T)he white paper is a form of complaint that had to be attended to. Are you going to close your eyes to complaints being sent to the Palace? That is proof that we were in compliance with the obligation under the Salonga law, not only to reply but to look into matters received by the Palace,” he stressed.
‘More farmers get free crop insurance’
In the same press briefing, Roque announced that the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) aims to increase the beneficiaries of the free crop insurance program by 32 percent to 2-million farmers in 2018 from 1.5-million last year.
“Farmers and fisherfolk listed under the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) will be given priority in availing the program,” he added.
He also said that 175,000 farmers benefitted from the program with claims amounting to Php1.9-billion in 2017, which was 24 percent higher than the previous year.
Meanwhile, Roque reported that government-owned and -controlled corporations’ (GOCCs) dividend remittances increased by 9.8 percent to Php30.45-billion in 2017.
Biggest dividend contributors included the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) with Php7.46-billion; Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Php2.51-billion; Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Php2.22-billion; Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Php1.95-billion; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Php1.84-billion; National Power Corporation (NPC), Php1.39-billion; and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), Php1.18 billion. ### PCO- Content