Posts Tagged ‘Benham Rise’

China is again exploiting the Philippines

January 18, 2018

Opinion

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

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MANILA, Philippines — China is again exploiting the goodwill of the Philippine government to conduct studies in Philippine seas to discover more areas rich in minerals and gas, a lawmaker warned yesterday.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate cautioned the public that with the Duterte administration’s friendly approach to the Chinese, Beijing is using the same modus operandi it employed during the Arroyo administration.

Zarate reminded the public about the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) of Beijing in 2005, wherein Philippine    official position in the disputed West Philippine Sea “jeopardized our claims in the Recto Reed Bank” near the waters off Palawan.

He warned that the JMSU during the Arroyo administration “is bound to happen again in the case of Benham Rise.”

Benham Rise is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf awarded by the United Nations in 2012, which provides Manila the exclusive sovereign rights over it. The area is believed to be rich in minerals and gas.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should rethink its decision to allow Chinese oceanographers to conduct studies in Philippine waters because it is one of the methods they used before under the JMSU that China entered with the Arroyo administration,” Zarate said.

Read more at http://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/15/1777874/chinese-research-benham-rise-slammed#xsQJHeZhvqdsG7lZ.99

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South China Sea and Beyond: Chinese research ship ‘Kexue’ to conduct research in Philippine waters

January 18, 2018

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China research ship Ke Xue

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By Ian Nicolas Cigaral (philstar.com) – January 18, 2018 – 2:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — China will deploy its most sophisticated research ship to study Philippine waters, including the potentially resource-rich Benham Rise (Philippine Rise).

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list) earlier slammed the Department of Foreign Affairs for allowing the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) to conduct research in waters off Eastern Luzon, where Benham Rise is located, and off Eastern Mindanao.

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The Chinese marine exploration will take place on January 24 to February 25 this year.

READ: Alejano: DFA approved Chinese think tank request to study Philippine waters

In a press conference in Beijing last Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang confirmed that Chinese research vessel “Kexue” will survey Philippine eastern waters, adding that such a cooperation would further strengthen the two countries’ bilateral relations.

“China commends this decision made by the Philippine side on agreeing to China’s scientific activities and offering facilitation,” Lu said.

“We welcome Philippine scientific research institutions’ participation and would like to work with them to advance maritime practical cooperation in marine research and other fields so as to create a favorable environment for the sound, steady and sustainable development of bilateral ties,” he added.

The $87.5-million Kexue was handed over to IO-CAS in 2012, newspaper China Daily reported. In September 5 last year, Kexue reportedly finished a month-long scientific exploration of the western Pacific Ocean.

Weighing 4,711 tons, China Daily described Kexue as a “moving laboratory on the sea” capable of global voyages and all-day observations.

Kexue can also conduct water body detection, atmospheric exploration, deep-sea environment exploration and remote sensing information verification.

In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the Philippines’ undisputed claim to the Benham Rise.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed an Executive Order officially renaming Benham Rise to “Philippine Rise” to assert the country’s sovereignty there following reports that Chinese research vessels were spotted surveying the area in 2016.

The Philippine Navy now regularly patrols the continental shelf.

According to Alejano, the Chinese researchers will be joined by the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute “as a requirement.”

Alejano also revealed that a similar plea was lodged by French-based non-profit organization Tara Expeditions Foundation, but it was declined by the DFA.

The lawmaker said Tara Expeditions was a better choice if Manila was seeking additional resources and manpower to study eastern waters, noting that France, unlike China, has no territorial conflict with the Philippines.

For his part, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the law gives equal chance to foreign countries to study Philippine waters as long as there are Filipinos on board.

Foreign marine researchers must also share their findings and data with their Filipino counterparts, Cayetano added.

READ: Cayetano: ‘Same rules for all countries’ seeking to study Philippine waters

Read more at http://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/18/1779010/chinese-research-ship-kexue-conduct-research-philippine-waters#dqq5ep5YZFmOuGUS.99

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Judge Carpio: Philippines dumb to grant China request to do research in Benham Rise

January 16, 2018

https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/video/24oras/441574/palasyo-umapela-kay-carpio-na-respetuhin-ang-desisyon-ukol-sa-planong-survey-sa-phl-rise/evideo/

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday said it would be “dumb” if the Philippine government would allow the request of China to explore the resource-rich Philippine Rise.

“China has squatted on the West Philippine Sea and refuses to leave despite the ruling of the UNCLOS tribunal. Now, China requests to be allowed to survey the Philippine Sea on the east side of the Philippines. The Philippines would be dumb to grant China’s request,” Carpio said in a 24 Oras report by Raffy Tima.

Magdalo partylist Representative Gary Alejano last week said that he had recieved information that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had granted the request of a Chinese entity to do research in waters off eastern Luzon.

The Philippine Rise, formerly known as the Benham Rise, is located east of Luzon and is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf.

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In 2012, the United Nations gave the country exclusive sovereign rights over the rise, believed to be rich in minerals and gas.

Chinese vessels were spotted surveying the said area in 2017, prompting the Philippine government to send Beijing a note verbale, seeking clarification as regards the presence of its ships in the resource-rich area.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Carpio should respect the executive branch once a decision was already made.

“Sana respetuhin natin ‘yung separation of powers kapag meron ng kasong nakahain sa kanya,” Roque said.

DFA secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had said “Philippine law says research can be done as along as there is a Filipino on board.”

“So there’s nothing suspicious about approval or disapproval of scientific research whether they’re Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Singaporeans. If they comply we will approve, if they do not comply we will not approve,” Cayetano said.

It is the DFA which usually grants applications to conduct research in the area, with coordination from technical agencies depending on the type of research. —Anna Felicia Bajo/NB, GMA News

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/639788/carpio-phl-dumb-to-grant-china-request-to-do-research-in-benham-rise/story/

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Suspicious Chinese activity in Philippine Rise — Duterte administration’s apparently inexhaustible capacity to bend over backward to accommodate Beijing — What do Filipinos get?

January 16, 2018
 / 05:11 AM January 16, 2018
Editorial

Had Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano not raised the issue, the public would not have known that the Department of Foreign Affairs has allowed China — specifically, a research vessel operated by that country’s Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences — to conduct purportedly scientific marine research in Philippine Rise.

Formerly called Benham Rise, the area is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau in the Philippine Sea, 250 kilometers east of the province of Isabela, that the United Nations officially recognized as part of the Philippine continental shelf in 2012, along with the sovereign rights to explore and exploit resources in it.

Philippine Rise is far from and well outside the waters in the South China Sea almost all of which are claimed by China through its so-called “nine-dash line,” a supposedly historical basis of ownership that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected as without basis in July 2016. That same ruling also declared that Beijing’s actions in the region had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore for resources within its own 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

The same sovereign right by the Philippines exists in Philippine Rise, an area that is incontrovertibly Philippine territory, with no scintilla of ownership dispute and recognized by international law as such.

So what is a Chinese vessel doing in those waters? And why did the DFA grant it permission to conduct research there, considering the testy relations the country has had with China over its island-grabbing in the South China Sea — including islands that have long been part of Philippine territory?

As Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio keenly pointed out: “If a bully has squatted on your front yard and requests to look at your backyard, would you grant the request of the bully?”

More strangely, why was all this kept under wraps by Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano — hidden from public discussion and scrutiny until Alejano’s revelations forced some sort of justification out of him?

Cayetano has defended the Chinese vessel’s incursion into Philippine Rise by saying the law allowed foreign research in Philippine territory so long as a Filipino scientist is aboard the research vessel and the findings of the study are shared internationally.

Carpio said no such local law exists, but Article 246 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) — of which both China and the Philippines are signatories — does call on “coastal states” like the Philippines to, “in normal circumstances, grant their consent for marine scientific research projects by other countries.”

Only the most blinkered observer would deny that Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea and its disrespect for the arbitral court’s ruling have long nullified that condition of “normal circumstances.”

So any hint of interest on its part for—let alone active entry into—another part of the Philippine territory would naturally raise red flags in any reasonable Filipino’s mind. But apparently not in Cayetano’s, or Malacañang’s.

Given his office’s justification for this suspicious Chinese activity in Philippine Rise, Cayetano must be asked: Who, then, is the Filipino scientist aboard the Chinese vessel, whose presence in the ship supposedly was a reason for the permission given? What are the findings of the research vessel so far? Where have these findings been published, who benefits from them, and for what specific ends was the maritime research undertaken?

Unless Malacañang becomes forthcoming and transparent about the tradeoffs it is forging with China for promised loans and assistance, questions like these will continue to point at an inconvenient notion: this administration’s apparently inexhaustible capacity to bend over backward to accommodate Beijing.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/110296/benefits-research-ph-rise#ixzz54LgYMfke
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Philippine President Duterte Allowed China “More Extensive” Research Rights in South China Sea, Pacific Ocean Near The Philippines — Chinese Chicanery in the Palace — Who Gains the Most?

January 15, 2018

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Chinese research vessel ‘Kexue’ is seen in the South China Sea. How do we know China is not stealing Philippine oil, fish and other natural resources?

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte personally made a decision to let China conduct scientific research off the Philippines’ Pacific coast, his spokesman said on Monday, despite concern among critics about threats to maritime sovereignty.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that as chief architect of foreign policy, Duterte allowed China to work with the University of the Philippines in Benham Rise, an area roughly the size of Greece and believed by some scientists to be rich in biodiversity and tuna.

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Welcome to The Philippines!

The United Nations declared Benham Rise, off the Pacific coast, part of the continental shelf of the Philippines in 2012. Manila last year renamed it the “Philippine Rise”.

Though China does not lay claim to the area, the lingering presence of its vessels for several months in late 2016 triggered concern about its intentions.

The Philippines granting of the permission to China was not announced and was revealed a few days ago by a lawmaker who has been fiercely critical of Duterte’s close ties with Beijing.

The Philippines and China have a long history of maritime squabbles over sovereignty in the South China Sea, but there has been no disagreement about waters off Manila’s Pacific coast.

Roque said anyone opposed to the joint research project should go to Congress and raise the issue there.

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Filipino fishermen have long complained about their “Chinese overseers.”

“If this is not a wise move of the president, then a law could be enacted to prohibit it,” he said.

The Philippines would grant permission to any other country that might show interest in conducting maritime research at Benham Rise, he added.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel)

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines: China’s acceptance or rejection of South China Sea arbitral ruling irrelevant (Both nations ignore international law) — Philippines becomes a victim of China’s ways….

January 15, 2018

 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. announces during a press briefing at the New Executive Building (NEB) in Malacañang on January 8, 2018. Presidential Photo/Yancy Lim

By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – January 15, 2018 – 2:25pm

MANILA, Philippines — Whether or not Beijing accepts the July 2012 ruling of a United Nations-back tribunal on the South China Sea is immaterial under international law, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stressed that the international tribunal had already invalidated China’s historic claims to the contested waters and that their artificial islands were located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“What is material under international law is it’s there… That’s the unique feature of international law. You cannot deny what is there,” Roque said in a televised press briefing. The Philippines has declined to press China on the decision, preferring instead to focus on other aspects of ties between the two nations.

Roque made the statement in response to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who said that the Philippines should reject China’s request to conduct marine research in Benham Rise, which is now officially called Philippine Rise.

READ: Alejano: DFA approved Chinese think tank request to study Philippine waters

In a statement sent to CNN Philippines, Carpio said that the Philippines would be “dumb” to grant China’s request following its refusal to accept its obligation under the arbitral award.

Duterte’s spokesman, on the other hand, said that there is a difference between international law and domestic law.

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Chinese research vessel ‘Kexue’ is seen in the South China Sea. How do we know China is not stealing Philippine oil, fish and other natural resources?

Roque: Not Philippines’ place to compel China to accept ruling

“In international law, the decision itself is the implementation of the law because that’s a statement of the rights of the parties which cannot be extinguished… I really do not understand, with all due respect to Justice Carpio, he really is recognized as the intellectual heavyweight in the court, why he insists that any country including China must accept it,” Roque said.

China has rejected the decision on the South China Sea, saying the proceedings were invalid from the start. It did not send representatives to the proceedings.

Roque further argued that the arbitral ruling is legally binding on all parties whether or not they agree with it as it is considered as a subsidiary source of international law.

“I do not understand why Justice Carpio belabors the point that China does not accept it. In the first place, it’s not for the Philippines to compel any state to accept it,” the presidential spokesperson said.

Asked if President Rodrigo Duterte will still raise the arbitral ruling with China, Roque said that there is no reason for the chief executive to do so given that there is no “international police” that would enforce the decision.

“What is the self-implementing nature of international law is the fact that the decision exists. That’s it,” Roque said.

Roque also clarified that the arbitral ruling is not relevant to Benham Rise as it is not part of the award, which is specifically for the disputed features in the West Philippine Sea. Benham Rise, or the Philippine Rise, is located 216 kilometers east of the coast of Aurora Province.

In 2012, the United Nations Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the request of the Philippines to include Benham Rise as part of its continental shelf.

RELATED: Chinese ‘research’ in Benham Rise slammed

Read more at http://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/15/1778018/palace-chinas-acceptance-or-rejection-arbitral-ruling-irrelevant#oWDyHprG1FS8mPpC.99

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines and Vietnam Have Legal Claims in the South China Sea; China Does Not — Philippine Supreme Court Senior Justice Has a Way To Follow The Law

August 4, 2017
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War never is an option. Diplomacy can fortify the UN ruling on Manila’s row with Beijing. Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio enumerates some diplomatic initiatives, in a presentation to the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute. Third of four parts:

There is no world policeman or sheriff to enforce the arbitral ruling. However, states that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea expressly bound themselves to comply in good faith with decisions of arbitral tribunals created under UNCLOS. China is reneging on this treaty obligation.

The option for the Philippines is not “talk or go to war with China.” This is a false option, and shows a dismal lack of understanding of international law and relations.

First, the Philippine Constitution prohibits war as instrument of national policy. Second, the UN Charter has outlawed war as a means of settling disputes between states. In resolving the SCS dispute, war is not and has never been an option. That is precisely why the Philippines filed the arbitration case against China.

If the Philippines starts a war against China, it would surely lose, and lose badly. If the Philippines is the aggressor, that will violate the Constitution and the UN Charter. The Philippines cannot invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty because the treaty is only for defense, not for aggression. President Duterte’s oft-repeated question – whether the US will support and join the Philippines if we go to war against China – is a misguided question because the US is not bound by the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty to support any act of aggression by the Philippines. If the US joins the Philippines in a war of aggression, the US will also be in breach of the UN Charter.

China itself does not want to start a war because war will give the US an excuse to intervene in the SCS dispute, since to defend itself the Philippines will certainly invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty. China’s strategy is to control the SCS without firing a shot. Those who raise the issue of war with China either do not understand the Three Warfares Strategy of China, or are scaring the Filipino people to submit to China’s designs in the SCS.

The real and practical option for the Philippines is to “talk with China while taking measures to fortify the arbitral ruling.” We should talk with China on the COC, on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) for naval and coast guard vessels, on conservation of fish stocks, on preservation of maritime environment, and on how our fishermen can fish in Scarborough Shoal. There are many other things to talk with China on the SCS dispute even if China refuses to discuss the arbitral ruling.

As we talk with China, we can fortify the ruling in many ways:

(1) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Vietnam on our overlapping Extended Continental Shelves in the Spratlys, based on the ruling of the tribunal that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such an agreement implements part of the arbitral ruling by state practice.

(2) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Malaysia on our overlapping EEZ and ECS in the Spratlys, again based on the ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such agreement also implements part of the ruling by state practice.

(3) The Philippines can file an ECS claim beyond our 200 NM EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Luzon. If China does not oppose, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) will award the ECS to the Philippines, similar to our ECS claim in Benham Rise where there was no opposition. If China opposes our ECS claim, it will have a dilemma on what ground to invoke. If China invokes the nine-dashed lines again, the UNCLCS will reject the opposition because the UNCLCS is bound by the ruling of the arbitral tribunal which, like the UNCLCS, was created under UNCLOS. If China claims an overlapping ECS, then China will be admitting that the Philippines has a 200 NM EEZ from Luzon that negates the nine-dashed lines.

(4) The arbitral tribunal has ruled that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. The Philippines can initiate an agreement among all ASEAN disputant states – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines – declaring that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generate an EEZ that could overlap with their respective EEZs. Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia will agree to this declaration, it will clearly remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them, leaving only the territorial disputes. This will isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratlys.

(5) The Philippines can claim damages before an UNCLOS tribunal for the “severe, permanent harm” to the marine environment, as ruled by the arbitral tribunal, that China caused within Philippine EEZ in the Spratlys because of China’s dredging and its failure to stop Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered species.

(6) In case China shows signs of reclaiming Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines can file a new case before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal to stop the reclamation because any reclamation in Scarborough Shoal will destroy the traditional fishing ground common to fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam and China as ruled by the tribunal.

The ruling involves only maritime, not territorial issues. Enforcing it does not mean forcibly evicting China from the islands and high-tide elevations it occupies in the SCS, as occupation of these geologic features is a territorial issue. There are still many commentators in media who fail to distinguish between territorial and maritime disputes, and thus wrongly conclude that enforcing the ruling means going to war with China on the territorial dispute. (More on Monday)

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http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/08/04/1724629/enforce-un-ruling-carpio-lists-ways

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

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Philippine Lawmakers Want To Drill For Oil In The South China Sea — A Move Likely To Anger China, Upset President Duterte — Some say “skirt the issue of sovereignty”

May 23, 2017

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Richard Gordon, in separate interviews, said the country has the sovereign right to exploit resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal/ File

MANILA, Philippines – With or without a threat of war from China, the Duterte administration should pursue its plan to drill for oil and exploit other resources in areas in the West Philippine Sea being claimed by the Chinese, senators said yesterday.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Richard Gordon, in separate interviews, said the country has the sovereign right to exploit resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“We must continue to assert our rights over our territory… including drilling (for oil), because that’s within our territory,” Drilon said. “Exploitation of natural resources is the right of the state within its territory.”

Sen. Sonny Angara said the country should start exploring for oil in the South China Sea but that it should “proceed carefully.”

He said the natural gas reserves from the Malampaya complex near Palawan would soon be depleted.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the government should consider joint exploration as the country does not have the financial resources to undertake such investment-heavy endeavors alone.

“The challenge is how to skirt the issue of sovereignty. Can we (claimant nations) set aside the issue temporarily and focus on the economic benefits?” Recto said.

He said the government must try to secure a better deal than the one for the Malampaya program – or one that ensures bigger share of profit for the country.

Last week, President Duterte disclosed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had threatened war if the Philippines would insist on drilling for oil in the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing, however, appeared to have sidestepped the war threat claimed by Duterte.

“I said it is ours and I will drill the oil. And I tell them do not do it because it is ours. But I have the arbitral ruling. But they said that if you force the issue, we will go to war,” Duterte said, quoting Xi.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said the government should now focus on building naval and research facilities near Benham Rise – renamed Philippine Rise – to hasten exploration activities in the area.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committees on energy and on economic affairs, made the call after President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 25, renaming Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.

“There is an urgent need for us to hasten the conduct of extensive research so we can map out strategies on how to develop the area and use its rich natural resources to enrich the lives of the Filipino people,” he said.

“Changing its name has put emphasis on our sovereign jurisdiction over this vast mass of underwater plateau. Now that we have done that, government must now shift its attention to how to utilize its natural resources before our neighbors discover its hidden treasures,” he added.

The Senate economic affairs committee is finalizing its recommendations for the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA), as proposed by Angara, to spearhead research and development efforts for the resource-rich area.

The Philippine Rise is a 24-million-hectare underwater plateau located about 250 kilometers east of Northern Luzon. It is within the Philippine EEZ and continental shelf, based on recommendations of the UN Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf issued on April 2012.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/24/1703092/senators-drill-oil-south-china-sea

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FILE - Vietnam People's Navy personnel carry their country's national flag.

 (Contains links to several earlier related stories)

FILE photo p rovided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

The Philippines, China and the South China Sea: Corruption, Tricky Deals and Failure to Follow International Law

May 12, 2017

There should be a military unit exclusively to protect the resource-rich Benham Rise off Luzon’s Pacific coast. Former President Fidel Ramos proposed such sea-air-land force amid reports of foreign trespass in the 13 million-hectare undersea plateau.

Teeming with fish and believed to hold oil and minerals, Benham is within the Philippines’ extended continental shelf. Ramos, who once headed the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said an “Eastern Command” should be formed to guard it. The defense department could assign the task to the Navy, he said during the latter’s forum on ASEAN maritime security last Wednesday.

Chinese exploration vessels were sighted crisscrossing Benham waters for three months starting last Nov. One even stayed for a month in one spot, leaving only to hospitalize an injured sailor in Surigao City, northern Mindanao. Beijing alibied that the vessels merely were on innocent passage. But a southern China newspaper later reported the return of one vessel from a “special mission” to gather seabed sediment samples. Such specimens were to determine mineral presence and suitable submarine parking.

An Eastern Command could be based in an existing Cagayan naval station that also has airstrips, sources said. The station is half a day’s sailing time to Benham. It would be equivalent to the Western Command, based in Palawan, also under the Navy, guarding the exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign fishers long have been poaching in the unguarded Benham seas. A coast guard patrol confirmed their presence last week. Ramos said the Eastern Command would protect maritime interests granted by the United Nations exclusively to the Philippines.

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Beijing’s narrative in the South China Sea is that it is only trying to retrieve historic territorial waters. And it supposedly is doing so legally and peacefully. But what’s the truth, based on ancient maps, historical records, and modern maritime laws?

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio extensively has researched the issues, presented in the e-book “Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea: The South China Sea Dispute.” Download and share it for free from the following websites:

http://www.imoa.ph/

http://murillovelardemap.com/

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There’s blood in the hands of those who procured dilapidated Air Force combat-utility helicopters during the Aquino administration. There would be more if present officials ignore the P1.2-billion scam.

One of the 19 choppers crashed in Tanay, Rizal, last week, killing three airmen. Another crash-landed in clear weather in Sarangani last Nov. No one perished there, but danger signs already showed.

The defective aircraft already hit the headlines about this time two years ago. A Filipino broker blew the whistle on her estranged American partner who sold the units under suspicious circumstances. Exposed was that two biddings had been rigged three years earlier to suit one party. Better suppliers either walked out or were disqualified on flimsy technicalities. The biddings were declared failures. That paved the way for negotiated purchase from the favored American. Sixty-year-old UH-1D helicopters, double the age of the pilots who would fly them, were indented. Components from junkyards were assembled in an ill-equipped California factory. Signing the contract were the defense secretary, an undersecretary, an assistant secretary. Two generals endorsed and accepted the units – delayed, decrepit, and mostly inoperative.

In his 2012 State of the Nation, then-President Noynoy Aquino announced that nine of the choppers were en route to Manila. They arrived three-and-a-half years later. Some of the aircraft were displayed during the Air Force anniversary; none were flown because the motors wouldn’t start. A Senate inquiry ensued; warnings were aired about deaths and injuries from the unfit choppers; there was no final report. What stood out was the badmouthing by Internet trolls of the whistleblower and the few newsmen who reported on the issue.

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Chinese ships’ passage off Samar ‘innocent’ – PCG

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that based on information received by the PCG, the Chinese ship seen in the waters off Guiuan, Eastern Samar between January and March was a research vessel. File

MANILA, Philippines – A Chinese research vessel spotted off Eastern Samar was only making “innocent passage,” the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said yesterday.

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that based on information received by the PCG, the Chinese ship seen in the waters off Guiuan, Eastern Samar between January and March was a research vessel.

“For as long as the Chinese ship was only passing through, then there is no problem… The Chinese ship was also monitored more than 200 nautical miles away from the shoreline,” Balilo said.

He said they have not received any report of irregularity in the activities of the unnamed Chinese vessel, like illegal fishing or dumping of waste into the water.

The PCG spokesman stressed there were other foreign ships in the area – including US and Japanese vessels.

On Wednesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported sightings of three Chinese ships in different parts of the country.

The AFP told the House committee on national defense that the Chinese research ship Xiang Yang Hong 03 stayed for nine days northwest of Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, while the Xiang Yang Hong 06 stayed for 19 days at 226 nautical miles northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Image result for Xiang Yang Hong 06, photos

Xiang Yang Hong 06

Another Chinese vessel Jiangkai, with bow number 525, was allegedly seen in Mindoro last April 23. It was reportedly following US Navy ship USS Stethem that was on routine operations in the area.

Balilo said that they have no information about the Chinese ships reportedly seen in Mindoro and Ilocos Sur.

Amid reports of increasing Chinese activities in Philippine waters, the military has started moving personnel and construction materials to Pag-Asa Island in the disputed Spratlys archipelago, in preparation for the construction of a beaching ramp and the concreting of the Rancudo Airfield.

A beaching ramp is needed so that ships could unload construction materials and equipment on the island.

Puerto Princesa City-based Western Command (Wescom) commander Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario said units involved in the projects have left the Palawan mainland for their journey to Pag-Asa.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the administration has allotted P1.6 billion for the development of all nine military outposts in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

“Our personnel along with some construction materials have already moved. They moved last week but they have to wait for more construction materials,” Del Rosario said.

But he could not say yet when the actual spadework would begin.

Building a beaching ramp requires dredging a shallow portion of the shoreline. At present, cargo or supplies for the island are unloaded from ships and ferried on small boats to the shore some 500 meters away. The procedure takes days or even weeks to complete.

Pag-Asa Island, which is also the seat of Palawan’s farthest fifth-class municipality, is located just 14 nautical miles from Zamora (Subi) Reef, which has been transformed into an island fortress by the Chinese.

Meanwhile, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña is pushing for more scientific studies on the resources in Benham Rise, also known as the Benham Plateau.

Dela Peña, in an address before the recent National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) regional scientific meeting in Cebu, said Benham Rise carries tremendous potential that could help the government realize its vision of reducing economic inequality.

Aside from its rich marine and aquatic resources, Benham Rise is believed to contain huge gas and oil deposits.

Benham Rise is a seismically active undersea region estimated to cover an area of about 13 million hectares located east of Luzon. It is 35 meters underwater with the shallowest point located off the provinces of Aurora and Isabela.

In April 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea recognized Benham Rise as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf and territory.

“The Department of Science and Technology is focusing on strengthening research and development initiatives in various fields, including the fisheries sector because this will provide more opportunities for our marginalized fishermen in the regions and will help them uplift their economic condition,” Dela Pena said.  – Jaime Laude, Rainier Allan Ronda

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/12/1699079/chinese-ships-passage-samar-innocent-pcg

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

Philippines completes an 18-day scientific survey in the South China Sea

April 28, 2017

Reuters

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines has completed an 18-day scientific survey in the South China Sea to assess the condition of coral reefs and draw a nautical map of disputed area, a top security official said on Thursday.

Two survey ships, including an advanced research vessel acquired from the United States, conducted surveys around Scarborough Shoal and on three islands, including Thitu, in the Spratly group, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said.

“This purely scientific and environmental undertaking was pursued in line with Philippine responsibilities under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea to protect the marine biodiversity and ensure the safety of navigation within the Philippines’ EEZ,” Esperon said in a statement.

He gave no details of the findings from the reef assessments and nautical mapping of the area done from April 7-25.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, but it appeared to have allowed the survey. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the strategic waterway.

Other countries in the region were regularly making scientific surveys in the area, said a navy official who declined to be named.

The navy official told Reuters the Philippines also conducts marine survey from time to time, but this was its first major undertaking since 2011, when a Chinese patrol boat harassed a survey ship hired by an Anglo-Filipino company to explore for oil and gas in the Reed Bank.

Esperon said researchers from the environment ministry, the country’s premier university and the navy took part in the expedition.

“This is the first leg of the expedition,” he said, adding the government also plans to conduct research in Benham Rise, part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, in the Pacific Ocean.

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Larry King)