- Gary Alejano claimed to have received info about DFA’s approval for China to conduct research in the Benham Rise
- The lawmaker cautioned on China’s intention since their earlier request were all turned down for refusing to involve Filipino scientists
- Alejano also questioned the intention of the Duterte administration for allowing such a move
MANILA, Philippines – Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano scored the Duterte administration, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for allowing China to conduct maritime research in the Benham Rise.
In a press release, Alejano claimed to have received information about the DFA approving the request of the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) to conduct maritime scientific research (MSR) in Philippine waters.
Alejano said the study will be joined by the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) and will cover areas in Eastern Mindanao and Eastern Luzon where Benham Rise is located.
“We should be careful and prudent in granting any access to our waters especially with China who is known to claim 80% of our EEZ in South China Sea through its expansive 9-dash line,” said the lawmaker.
Chinese over French?
Alejano, a staunch Duterte critic, further claimed the MSR should have been granted to a French think-tank but their similar request was rejected by the DFA. He added the French-based is way more preferable since the Philippines has no maritime conflict with France, whereas China is known to have “shown aggression and great interest in our territories.”
The partylist solon questioned the DFA action since China’s earlier request to conduct survey in Benham Rise as early as 2015 were rejected because of Beijing’s refusal to involve Filipino experts; but it appears that they were “only forced to collaborate with UP-MIS for the sake of getting the permit.”
So, why China?
This initial behavior by China, Alejano said, should worry the Philippine government on whether we will be given equal access to all information from the joint project.
“So why China? All things considered, allowing a Chinese national think tank to conduct a so-called scientific research over Philippine waters, even with participation of Filipinos, is careless and absurd. What is really the intention of the Duterte administration in allowing such activity at the expense of our national security?” the opposition solon asked.