This is to clarify the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) issue raised during the press briefing last Tuesday, January 23.
We must look at my response on the issue in its entirety. I was referring to China when I said “no one has applied and no one can do it, because, apparently, it’s capital-intensive.” Earlier, I responded, and I quote, “Because only China has qualified so far. There are other applicants, unfortunately they did not qualify according to fixed guidelines already set by the government.”
It is obvious that my statement pertains to China and not the Philippines. As Filipinos, we do not need consent to conduct scientific investigation in the Philippine Rise (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 permits to Filipinos in this regard. We have the sovereign rights to explore and exploit the resources in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise).
To reiterate, I never said that Filipinos cannot conduct research in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise). On the contrary, only Filipinos can do so even without express consent of our state.
Having said this, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano apprised me of the latest developments in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise). Request applications to conduct research by the United States, Japan, and South Korea have likewise been approved. This hopefully puts to rest the issue that the current administration is favoring China in the issue of the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise).