Sen. Binay wants transparency in China’s Benham maritime research
Sen. Nancy Binay on Thursday urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to publicize the details regarding the controversial permit issued to China for the maritime research in Benham Rise.
DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said that the Chinese researchers pose no threat in the country and was actually favorable on the Philippine’s end.
Cayateno said that the DFA has allowed foreign experts to conduct research as long as local scientists were also on board and that details found must be shared to the government.
“In the interest of transparency, it would be best for the DFA to share to the public the extent of the study, research and exploration of China in Benham Rise,” Binay said in a statement.
“And since it is the DFA which approves or disapproves scientific researches in both the West and East Philippine Seas, it is only appropriate if they could provide a list of all Filipino and foreign-led expeditions in our waters since 2010,” the senator added.
The government changed the name of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise in April 2017 by President Duterte to assert jurisdiction over the area.
Binay, according to the statement, could not see anything wrong if the DFA would disclose the details of the permit.
“Mas mabuti nang malaman natin kung hanggang saan ang tulong na ibibigay ng China sa atin sa pagre-research (We must know as to what extent the assistance China would give us in terms of research). If it does not undermine the country’s sovereignty, then I don’t see anything wrong why the DFA cannot provide us with the details of the agreement between the Philippines and China,” Binay, chair of the Senate committee on tourism, cultural communities, and social justice, welfare and rural Development, said.
The senator said that the information—about the location, number of vessels, offshore platforms, area and period of coverage and members of the technical team—is relatively important for the Senate to know and review the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) entered into by the Philippine government.
“While nothing legally hinders joint explorations, for years, it has always been an issue of policy whether or not government should allow foreign corporate interests or foreign governments to join the Philippines in exploring for resources,” Binay noted in her statement.
“Sa ngayon (For now), we need to be cautious and sparing in giving approval for joint explorations. We must first bear in mind the interest of the Filipino people. Baka naman iba ang agenda ng MSR (Maybe the agenda of the MSR is different)? Our foreign partners should first acknowledge and recognize our territorial integrity and sovereignty over our waters–and that’s non-negotiable,” she said.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that Filipinos were free to conduct a research in Philippine Rise. /jpv
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