Develop local marine science and fishing industry, not “joint research” with China –
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday said that by promoting and developing the local marine science industry, we could utilize and exploit the Philippine Rise on our own even without the help of China which has a vested interest over the 13-million-hectare underwater plateau.
Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare resource rich underwater plateau located opposite to the disputed South China Sea, it has been declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in April 2012 as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Through the Executive Order No. 25 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May last year, the undersea feature has been renamed from Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
A joint research between the Philippines and China has been approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which was opposed by the fishers group, saying the joint research blanketed with the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) is a pretext of China for another occupation activity in our marine territory.
According to the scientist group AGHAM, the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fisheries had once acquired three research vessels, namely, the Merchant Vessel (MV) Pampano, MV Albacore, and the Research Vessel (RV) Sardinella.
The MV Pampano which was acquired in 1962 was a 113 gross tons equipped with tuna long line and oceanographic equipment. The vessel was also equipped with radar and various electronic equipments on board such as fish finder, signal buoys, radio direction finder, and others. It had been utilized for training and research in different waters such as Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, Visayan Sea, and the waters of Luzon.
The MV Albacore which was acquired in 1972 on the other hand was used extensively for the training of students in oceanography, fish stock assessment, and others in the Visayan Sea, Samar Sea, San Miguel Bay, Ragay Gulf, Ticao Pass, and North of Samar Island.
While the RV Sardinella which was acquired in 1981 was adequately equipped for deep-sea trawling, purse seining, and for research in marine sciences and oceanography. Unfortunately, these research vessels have not been maintained to maximize marine research and development.
“The government neglect of a scientific development deprives our local marine scientists and oceanographers to conduct research in the Philippine Rise. We don’t actually need China or any other country in exploring the potentials of our natural resources if the government is sincere in developing and maintaining our research facilities. But apparently, the government chooses to surrender our duty to China which is a tried and tested notorious aggressor and grabber of territory, as experienced in the West Philippine Sea,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group reiterated its statement chiding the Malacanañg Palace for disowning the country’s claim in the Philippine Rise.
“President Rodrigo Duterte’s abandonment of our legal claim in Philippine Rise deserves a strong condemnation from the Filipino people. He ultimately surrenders our entire territory to his foreign masters particularly to China in the name of foreign aid and investments,” ended Hicap. ###