Palace says no Filipino can afford research at PH Rise

MANILA — Filipinos do not have the ability or financial means to carry out the research in the Philippine Rise located off eastern Luzon.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued this statement on Tuesday amid criticisms against the government’s decision to allow China to conduct marine research in the resource-rich continental shelf.

According to Roque, no Filipino has applied to conduct research in the Philippine Rise.

“[N]o one has applied. And no one can do it because, apparently, it’s capital intensive,’ he said in a Palace briefing.

Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, was renamed so by President Rodrigo Duterte to assert jurisdiction over the area.

Asked why China, and no other countries, was given the permission to conduct the research on Philippine Rise, Roque said China was the only applicant who was “qualified.”

“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,” he said.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had earlier said that China’s marine research in the Philippine Rise was actually favorable to the Philippines, and that it poses no danger to the country.

He said the law allows foreign research in the gas-rich region as long as there is a Filipino scientist on board and that all their findings are shared with the government.

In 2012, the United Nations (UN) ruled that the Philippine Rise was part of the country’s exclusive economic zone, which gave the Philippines “sovereign rights” to explore and exploit the resources in the area.