Locsin bares new rule on foreign ships in PH EEZ

Teodoro Locsin Jr.

FOREIGN Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. yesterday said foreign marine surveys in Philippine waters may be permitted provided Filipino scientists will be allowed to join the international research.

Locsin, in a conversation on Twitter with University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Jay Batongbacal, said he was informed that under United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Philippines cannot ban marine surveys.

The Secretary, the other day tweeted he will universalize the ban  on all foreign marine surveys including China to remove suspicion of favoritism.

“I am reliably informed that under UNCLOS we cannot ban marine surveys but that marine surveys need our permission to be conducted. This then is the new rule: If we grant permission to one legitimate say US concern we will grant to France, China, Japan, any non-haosiao survey.”

Asked if the Philippines could lease marine survey ship and then invite foreigners to join surveys of Filipino scientists, Batongbacal explained that the Philippines can lease a foreign marine survey ship if the country does not have the appropriate ship and the government provides the budget.

“Without enough money, we have had to enter into cooperation agreements so that our scientists can use their ships, or we joined int’l research projects that also cover our areas of research,” Batongbacal told Locsin.

Locsin stressed that Filipino scientists cannot join foreign ships as mere passengers.

“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.

Otherwise, no permission will be granted to foreign research vessels or the ban stays, the Secretary added.

Recently, reports said that two Chinese ships were recently seen operating in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Chinese oceanographic survey ships Zhanjian and Dong Fang Hong 3 have been conducting marine scientific research in the country’s EEZ this week, according to Ryan Martinson, an assistant professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College.