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‘Nothing suspicious about Chinese research at Phl Rise’

MANILA, Philippines — There is nothing suspicious about the country’s decision to allow a Chinese scientific agency to conduct research at the Philippine Rise, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said over the weekend.

Without providing details, Cayetano said the government is following the same rules for all countries applying for a permit to conduct research inside the Philippine territory. 

“There’s nothing suspicious about the approval and disapproval of a scientific research, whether they are Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Singaporeans, etc.,” he said. 

“We have the same rules for all countries. We have to follow the law,” he said. 

Cayetano said the law mandates that research can be done in the Philippine continental shelf and in certain marine areas for as long as there is a Filipino on board the vessel. 

He added that all findings, data, research should be shared with the Philippines. 

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“If they comply, we will approve. If they don’t, we will not approve,” he said. 

Earlier on Friday, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said the Department of Foreign Affairs has allowed the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to conduct research at the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise), a 13-million hectare area off eastern Luzon that was officially recognized as part of the Philippine continental shelf in 2012. 

The lawmaker said the DFA had denied a similar request from a French-based non-profit organization. 

Cayetano said he would look into the details of the applications cited by Alejano, but stressed that various researches had already been conducted in the area even before it was recognized as part of the Philippines. 

“What some of the critics may not know, before the Philippine Rise was awarded to us, a lot of other countries had already concluded their research there,” he said in Filipino. 

The area is believed to be rich in minerals, oil and gas. 

Alejano expressed concern over China’s motive in exploring the region, noting the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea and  South China Sea.

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