The Philippine government will be acquiring research vessels to have better view of resources in Philippine Rise. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that Philippine Rise is one of the topics discussed during the Cabinet meeting on March 5.
“The President reiterated that the only right that foreigners can exercise in Philippine Rise is the right to innocent passage,” he said.
He added that President Rodrigo Duterte noted that “exploration for natural resources, conduct of scientific research, laying of submarine cables and building of artificial islands in the Philippine Rise are reserved for Philippine nationals.”
“The President and the Cabinet also noted that we should invest in maritime survey ships so that we could better assess the resources that we can exploit in the Philippine Rise,” he said.
Roque added that the plan to acquire research vessels is “very solid”. “There was an initial proposal to buy using Malampaya funds but it was noted that they may be legal questions because the Malampaya funds, in a case that I filed, there was a TRO issued—permanent injunction issued by the Supreme Court that Malampaya funds could only be utilized for energy related projects,” he said.
“And so it was Secretary Dominguez who said, we have the money anyway we will buy even if we do not have to use Malampaya funds. So the government will buy more research vessels,” the presidential spokesperson said.