Philippines bans foreign research at vast plateau under the seas
Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned all foreign scientific exploration on a vast undersea plateau claimed by Manila, his spokesman said on Tuesday, now that China has completed its research there.
Authorities announced three weeks ago that the president had allowed China to conduct research at Benham Rise off the country's Pacific coast, despite the two nations' decades-old maritime disputes elsewhere in the region. Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said the president ordered an end to all foreign research in the area at a cabinet meeting Monday after Chinese scientists completed their expedition.
"The president ordered that henceforth only Filipinos will be allowed to conduct scientific research... and explore and exploit for natural resources in the Philippine Rise," Roque told reporters, using the local name for the area.
The 13-million-hectare (32-million-acre) underwater land mass, believed to be rich in maritime resources, lies 250 kilometres off the east coast of the main Philippine island of Luzon.