Duterte orders cessation of foreign explorations, fishing in Benham

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During the Cabinet meeting on February 5, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the cessation of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists in Philippine Rise also known as Benham Rise.

President Duterte also ordered the Philippine Navy to “chase out” vessels conducting fishing and research in the 13-million hectare continental shelf east of Luzon, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said.

“Let me be very clear about this: the Philippine Rise is ours and any insinuation that it is open to everybody should end with this declaration,” Duterte said at the Cabinet meeting as quoted by Piñol.

Piñol said Duterte directed the Department of National Defense (DND) to deploy Navy and Air Force assets to check on the presence of foreign vessels.

“Only Filipino scientists will be allowed to conduct researches and exploration in the Philippine Rise,” Duterte said.

Piñol said that the position of the President allowing foreign explorations accompanied by Filipino researchers “drastically changed following the statement issued by a foreign low-level diplomat suggesting that the Philippines does not own the whole of the Rise.”

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