- Duterte said he will not allow fishing or exploration in Benham Rise without his permission
- He also warned ‘war’ could erupt if any country tried to intrude the area
- But the President added China likewise offered ‘joint exploration’ which he said is a better alternative
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not allow any country to conduct exploration, expedition or fishing without asking permission from the Philippine government.
Duterte’s statement came amid reports China has named five undersea regions in the resource-rich area east of Luzon named which was recently approved by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).
“May pinadala ako na doon na Marines, isang batalyon. Sinabi ko talaga, ‘walang mage-experiments na diyan hangga’t wala silang permiso galing sa akin,” said Duterte on Wednesday.
[I sent battalion of Marines there. I said, no one must be allowed to conduct experiments unless they have my permission.]
The President added a ‘conflict’ could erupt in the region if anyone or any country insists on intruding what has been largely accepted as part of the Philippine territory.
“But the Armed Forces will have to recommend it. Otherwise, no. I will not allow fishing, I will not… magkagiyera tayo [there will be war],” he said.
But Duterte also revealed Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered to conduct joint exploration in Benham with teams from both countries to avoid further worsening the conflict.
This, he said could be a better alternative as it would mean ‘co-ownership.’
“Ngayon offer nila joint exploration, ‘di parang co-ownership. Parang dalawa tayong may-ari niyan. Eh ‘di mas maganda ‘yan kaysa away,”
[Now they’ve offered joint exploration, like it’s co-ownership. It means we both own the area. And that’s better because there will be no conflict.]