Duterte to send off Filipino scientists to Philippine Rise
President Rodrigo Duterte is sending off an all-Filipino team of scientists to Philippine Rise on Tuesday to begin the country’s first scientific research in the vast undersea plateau off Aurora province.
The send-off program commemorates the 2012 United Nations declaration that the submerged plateau, then known as Benham Rise, is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf.
The President’s trip is also symbolic, as it falls on the eve of the first anniversary of his renaming the 13-million-hectare seamount Philippine Rise.
Accompanying the President in sending off the 50-strong scientific team are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and some members of Congress, including Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said on Monday.
Esperon said the government had stopped processing foreign applications for scientific research in Philippine Rise, and was encouraging Filipino scientists to carry out studies of the resource-rich seamount.
On June 12 last year, the military’s Northern Luzon Command planted a metallic Philippine flag on the seamount.
The command also placed a marker 21 meters below the surface to assert that the plateau is part of the Philippines’ territory.
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