By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines, through the initiative of the University of the Philippines (UP), will undertake marine scientific research in Benham Rise, now known as the Philippine Rise.
This came after UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (IMLOS) Director Jay Batongbacal secured a “go” signal from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. in a Twitter exchange on Monday.
“Sir, could we please allow at least Philippine MSR to push through? UP had taken initiative of organizing MSR projects, but also got banned because we invited foreign scientists or asked to use foreign ships. We end up losing opportunities (for) tech transfer & experience,” Batongbacal asked Locsin on Twitter.
In response, Locsin said: “Philippine marine survey ship & it is a go. Invite foreigners including Chinese. Knowledge has no enemy except ignorance. Brains outside their head look the same; why discriminate?”
Batongbacal, an expert on international maritime law, acknowledged Locsin’s proposal to include the Chinese in the planned conduct of marine scientific research mission.
“Copy that, will relay to our scientists. They’ve worked with Chinese long before in other projects. I would leave choice per project with them, since it depends on skills required by the research and partner institutions,” Batongbacal said.
Locsin, however, said he wanted to see the “academic qualifications” of those who will participate in the marine research.
“Also I want to see academic qualifications of the UP guys looking for a cruise. No PoliSigh and the rest of that mushy crap. Hard sciences,” the foreign affairs chief said.
In March, 2018, Malacanang issued a directive stopping foreign marine entities from conducting marine scientific research in the Philippine Rise to protect the country’s sovereignty.