Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque recently said that Filipinos can freely explore Benham Rise, a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau near the province of Aurora, which is believed to be rich in resources and minerals.
The statement was made after a misunderstanding about Roque’s earlier statement in which he said that conducting research on Benham Rise is a “capital-intensive” behavior, thus no Filipino team has applied to do so.
He noted that what he meant was China is so far the only country, among others who have expressed their interest to the Philippine government, that is qualified to conduct explorations in Benham Rise.
“To reiterate, I never said that Filipinos cannot conduct research in Benham Rise. On the contrary, only Filipinos can do so even without express consent of our state,” Roque said.
Later on, Roque has also issued a clarification statement that request applications from United States, Japan, and South Korea have been approved, as per Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Pater Cayetano.
“This hopefully puts to rest the issue that the current administration is favoring China in the issue of Benham Rise,” Roque said.