The Daily Manila Shimbun


Philippines wants a scientist on board if China surveys Benham Rise

March 30, 2017

China has pending requests to survey Benham Rise, which is located northeast of the Philippines, but it remains to be seen if  Beijing will comply with a government condition  a Filipino scientist be on its vessel during the research, acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said Thursday.

Manalo said the Philippines has denied “a number” of Chinese requests because it refused the Philippines’ condition a Filipino scientist should observe their research.

“I know a number have been denied and in fact two or three are under consideration. Two or three requests,” Manalo told the ANC News Channel.

Manalo said a permission from China or other countries is “required” if they “want to survey or whatever they wish” and “if the Philippine government wishes to grant it.”

“We have the sovereign rights, but we have requirements which I understand China did not fulfill. We require to have a Filipino scientist on board,” he said.

It’s not clear why China wanted its Benham Rise surveys without outside observers.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said the military has  monitored at least one suspected Chinese survey ship slowly criss-crossing Benham Rise and stopping at long intervals at times last year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs sent a note verbale to China to explain what its ship did at Benham Rise last year.

Manalo said China has recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights to the offshore region, which is within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf areas.

“We were satisfied with their explanation,” Manalo said. DMS