Palace nixes P6-B Philippine Rise outpost
Malacañang has disapproved the construction of a P6-billion government research facility at the Philippine Rise which was meant to provide a permanent Philippine presence in the area and prevent any attempt at encroachment, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said on Wednesday.
Alejano told the Inquirer that the Palace rejection of the project was revealed by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol at a House committee on agriculture and food hearing on Aug. 3.
“In order to protect our rights, the Department of Agriculture proposed to establish this facility in the Philippine Rise but it was disapproved by Malacañang because supposedly, it was not a priority,” Alejano said.
Formerly known as Benham Rise, the Philippine Rise is an active 13-million hectare undersea region rich in minerals and resources located in the Philippines’ eastern border.
In May, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that Chinese ships were spotted in the area earlier this year.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, an expert in international maritime law, said that while the Philippines did not exercise sovereignty over Philippine Rise, the country had “sovereign rights” over it.
This means that the Philippines had the “sole right to explore for and exploit oil, gas and other mineral resources” in the Philippine Rise.
Alejano yesterday said that the government should do “anything that will settle our claim in the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise.”
The plan for a research facility, to be placed under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, has become “a missed opportunity,” Alejano said. The project would have begun in January next year had it been approved.
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