MANILA (Manila Times) – Chinese ships are no longer allowed to conduct marine research in Philippine waters after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr included Chinese vessels in the ban that prevented Japanese and French vessels from doing research in the country’s territorial waters.
“I banned marine survey ships, amending restriction to France and Japan by adding China,” Locsin said on Twitter on Monday.
“To pick and choose invites suspicion of favoritism. Will universalize the ban. Period,” he said.
Locsin added, “Granting exception to one country will automatically lift ban universally. Exceptions invite bribes.”
He posted the tweets in reply to the remark of Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo that there is nothing wrong in seeking assistance from the United States in monitoring the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) amid recent incursions of Chinese vessels and warships in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
China’s oceanographic survey ship Zhanjian was recently spotted operating 80 nautical miles off the east coast of the Philippines, which is near Siargao island.
But Locsin said foreign marine scientists, including Chinese, can join Philippine research ships.
This was in reply to the request of Jay Batongbacal, University of the Philippines (UP) director of Institute of Maritime Affairs, to allow at least the Philippine’s Marine Scientific Research to push through with its study in Philippine (Benham) Rise.
“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 technology transfer and experience,” Batongbacal said.
To which Locsin replied, “Philippine marine survey? You don’t need permission for that.”
“Philippine marine survey ship and it is a go. Invite foreigners including Chinese. Knowledge has no enemy except ignorance,” he said.
Locsin on Sunday said he “signed a proposed memorandum banning survey ships of French, Japanese, and one or two nations.”
“I added China saying it is everybody or nobody. To make an exception is to be open to suspicion. Will see if the ban is universal. All or no one,” he said.