By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Paolo (Bam) Aquino IV on Wednesday commended the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for contesting China’s move to name five undersea features in the Philippine Rise.
Aquino, chair of the Senate committee on science and technology which earlier inquired into the government’s capability to launch Filipino-led marine scientific research (MSR) in the resource-rich underwater plateau, said DFA’s declaration to contest the China-named features “is one step toward safeguarding Philippine territory.”
“We hope they will follow through on the nullification of these Chinese names in Philippine Rise,” Aquino said in a statement.
The opposition senator said they expect the Duterte administration to fight for the government’s sovereignty rights over the Philippine Sea.
He also said he expects the government to support local scientists interested to conduct independent researches within the country’s territory.
“China has violated our sovereign rights in discovering these features and must not be given the honor of naming them,” he said.
Aquino, vice-chairman of the Senate finance panel, said he would push the Senate to approve a higher budget to support Filipino scientists and other government agencies in their effort to protect and explore the Philippine Rise.
With the government in a better fiscal position to invest in manpower and equipment, it should be investing in its own capacity to do research and not be dependent on foreign partnerships.
“Let’s provide funding for projects that would be best for the country’s future. Let’s make the extra effort to support our scientists and ensure that we can maximize the Philippine Rise, and protect it from any threat,” he said.
Now that the government is able to procure sophisticated equipment for the modernization of the Armed Forces, Aquino said it is imperative that the state simultaneously deliver the needs of its scientists and other agencies that are at the forefront of scientific research and exploration.
“Let’s be more vigilant with the Philippine Rise. Ipaglaban naman natin ito,” he stressed.