By Raïssa Robles
Due to lack of space, I was not able to include the following:
According to maritime law specialist Jay Batongbacal, their goal now is to declare the shallowest and most important part of the area as a “no-go, no-take marine protected zone”.
In a recent forum conducted on the Oceana marine research project in Benham Rise, a video was shown of the scientists who had participated in the 2017 Oceana cruise.
Oceana’s chief strategist Margot Stiles excitedly revealed that they had discovered there a new species of coral that had “never been found”.
Stiles gushed that “the Philippines is at the center of marine biodiversity on the planet.”
It was for these reasons, Batongbacal said, that “these resources have to be adequately protected”.
You can watch the Oceana video below. Perhaps you can pass on the link to the Palace.
I also interviewed Roilo Golez, a former congressman and former national security adviser.
He told me he was against allowing any Chinese marine research ship in the area. He said, “even if you put a battalion of Filipino scientists there, they will not be able to detect what data they will be gathering. Because they will be putting instruments to determine salinity, temperature, etc. and that data will go straight to their computers.”
“The moment that data go into their computers, how do we know whether the data they will share with us is accurate or complete or whether they are hiding something.”
“Like me, if we both go around taking pictures, you don’t know what I’m seeing,” he told me.
By giving permission, Golez said the Philippine government would be handing to China “delicate data on salinity, temperature and currents.” My piece below further explains why Golez considers such data “delicate”.
Philippines’ approval of Chinese research vessel in strategic Benham Rise waters triggers national security concerns
By Raissa Robles
31 January 2018
A Chinese ship that arrived in the Philippines this week ahead of an approved mission to a strategically crucial undersea region sparked concerns over the Southeast Asian country’s powers of jurisdiction, and its national security.
The vessel called Ke Xue docked in the remote town of Santa Ana, Cagayan province, over the weekend to pick up a Philippine researcher who would accompany the ship to Benham Rise – a 13 million hectare undersea plateau 250km off the coast of Luzon and now known as the Philippine Rise.
Philippine lawmakers have called for a congressional probe into the research being conducted, with one national security adviser suggesting it had a dual purpose and potential military applications.
The Benham Rise was recognised in 2012 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as part of the Philippine continental shelf, within its exclusive economic zone.
Professor Jay Batongbacal, from the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea – who helped mount the successful UNCLOS claim – said Chinese vessels entering the region was “a matter of concern” because they had been doing so “without permission, without Filipino participation”.
“Under UNCLOS, the Philippines has the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate scientific research over its exclusive economic zone,” he said.
While the Ke Xue had gained formal permission from President Rodrigo Duterte’s office to measure “the temperature, salinity and current distributions” of the waters for China’s Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, it was the first Chinese ship to ever do so.
To read the rest, please click on this link.