DFA: PH to have new marine survey boats

August 17, 2019
Teodoro Locsin Jr.

CNN Philippines — The government has budget for new marine survey boats, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr. said yesterday.

“[Former Senator Loren Legarda] gave budget for new marine survey boats. UP (University of the Philippines) won’t need to bunk with smelly aliens,” Locsin said in a tweet. Legarda, was chair of the Senate Committee on Finance which led deliberations for the 2019 budget.

Locsin’s remark was in response to a comment made by Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, who welcomed Locsin’s policy to allow foreign experts to join marine surveys as long as the research would be led by Filipinos.

“Excellent! That will pave way for a number of pending research proposals,” Batongbacal said, adding that he hopes the government can also allow the use of foreign vessels in the future.

Locsin explained he only allowed foreign nationals to “hitch a ride on our marine survey ships” after getting clearance from security officials. He stressed that “only Filipino boats” should be used.

The DFA chief’s latest remarks make it clear he wants foreign survey ships out of the Philippine waters, including the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), where it has sovereign rights to explore and use natural resources. He earlier announced he would “universalize” the ban on these foreign vessels from Philippine EEZ, but later acknowledged that based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which the country signed, the government could not completely prohibit all foreign countries from conducting marine research.

Locsin said among the conditions for foreign marine surveys to be allowed is if they would be led by Filipino experts.

“We can’t join their ships as just passengers; foreigners turn over command and control, all data gathering facilities, the entire enchilada to Filipinos,” Locsin said in a tweet on Wednesday.