The Philippines is not giving up its sovereignty rights in the West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday, May 15.

“We are not giving up our rights in the West Philippine Sea. As a matter of fact, we are still insisting until now,” he said on board BRP Davao del Sur in Casiguran Bay, Aurora to send-off 50 Filipino scientists to the Philippine Rise, formerly Benham Rise.
In accordance with the laws on the preservation of marine life, commercial fishing would be allowed at Philippine Rise, said Duterte.

Northern Luzon Command spokesman Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said members of Nolcom’s Area Task Force North would sail to the shallowest portion of Philippine Rise to set up a maritime marker in the area.

BRP Tarlac, the Navy’s landing dock ship, is being deployed to the region for the buoy’s casting. It will be located right over the underwater Philippine flag placed by military and civilian divers last year.

Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific W. Patrick Murphy and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo met Tuesday to discuss recent events in the South China Sea as well as the ties between the Philippines and U.S.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Malacañang briefing that the Philippines has not surrendered its rights over the Spratly Islands and other areas within the country’s exclusive economic zone despite China’s deployment of its first entirely home-built aircraft carrier in the area.

“We’ve always been putting down our feet. We have not surrendered our title, we have not relinquished our title. We maintain we have title,” Roque said.
He also defended Duterte’s presence at Philippine Rise when the disputes are actually in the South China Sea.

“While we may not be able to do anything as far as their military maneuvers are concerned, we continue to resort to diplomatic initiatives and I assure you that while we are not noisy at it, any development that happens, it is also accompanied by diplomatic steps by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Roque said.

China deployed its first home-built aircraft carrier in the northern port of Dalian on Sunday, May 13, “to test the reliability and stability of its repulsion and other system.”

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