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Benham Rise research too costly for a Pinoy-only team — Palace

Conducting a study in the resource-rich Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) is too costly for an all-Filipino team, Malacañang said Tuesday.

“No one can do it because, apparently, it’s capital intensive. You do not need a permit for any Filipino corporation to conduct scientific investigation in Benham Rise because it is ours so that’s not something that a consent has to be given by the government,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a briefing.

Roque was responding to Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s statement against the Chinese entity’s research in the undersea landmass off eastern Luzon, which was formerly known as Benham Rise.

“What will the country stand to gain from this marine scientific research? Why do we need to partner with China? Can't the Philippines do it on its own?” the senator asked.

“Ano bang nakukuha na gain kapag nagkakaroon ng scientific research? It brings us closer to the truth; gives us a better understanding of what Benham Rise has; gives us a better understanding of how we can better utilize the resources of Benham Rise,” Roque responded.

He also reiterated that only China qualified to conduct a research in the Philippine Rise.

“There are other applicants, unfortunately, they did not qualify according to fixed guidelines already set by the government,” he said.

Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano earlier revealed that the Department of Foreign Affairs granted the request of the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) for a marine scientific research. The Chinese research group will be joined by a team from the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI).

Roque previously said that the Chinese entity should share its finding with the Philippine government.

The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf granted the Philippines full territorial claim to Philippine Rise in 2012. — RSJ, GMA News