Locsin: Only PH-flagged ships allowed to survey country's waters

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2019 05:00 PM

MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday reiterated that only Filipino-flagged ships are allowed to survey Philippine waters for now.

In a tweet, Locsin said clear rules are needed.

“So now tell me who do we give to or withhold from authority to survey? flag of the boat or nationality of the surveying group leasing it? Need to inform everyone. For now only Filipino-flagged ships allowed. We need clear rules,” Locsin said.

“Well now it is clear: we can’t impose a ban but we can refuse to grant authority to marine survey. But my rule is all or nothing; everybody or nobody qualified.”

Locsin earlier said foreigners joining Filipino marine scientific research must “turn over command and control, all data-gathering facilities” to Filipinos.

The foreign secretary also had said the country may not ban marine surveys under an international sea treaty but that they need the country’s permission.

Locsin had mulled banning marine survey ships even of China, saying granting an exception to one country “will automatically lift ban universally” and will “invite bribes.”

The presence of Chinese ships in the country's exclusive economic zone has been controversial amid unresolved disputes in the South China Sea. China has been asserting ownership over nearly all of the resource-rich waters.