DFA insists: No info from Palace on Benham Rise deal


Posted at Mar 17 2017 04:38 PM

A technical diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 26, 2016. Photo of the coral cover at Benham Rise taken during an expedition last May 26, 2016. Screengrab from a video produced by Oceana Philippines

MANILA- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose on Friday insisted they were not informed by Malacañang on the alleged agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and China over Benham Rise.

“We are not aware of any agreement that was well, agreed upon between the Philippines and China with regards to this vessel spotted in Benham Rise,” Jose told ANC.

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo also said Thursday that he was unaware of any agreement made by Duterte with China over the undersea plateau.

Jose added that the department has not received any request for permission from China seeking to explore Benham Rise.

He said the DFA maintains that the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the undersea plateau and therefore any country who would like to explore the area must seek the permission of Manila.

“Well, our policy is Benham Rise is part of our country’s exclusive economic zone, part of our continental shelf as well as our extended continental shelf and as such we have the sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Benham Rise,” he said.