Malacañang announced on Tuesday that, henceforth, foreign scientific expeditions to Philippine Rise (also, Benham Rise) east of Aurora and Isabela Province will no longer be allowed.
This came in the wake of public howls of protest over the permission recently granted to a Chinese expedition to undertake underwater studies there, which falls under Philippine jurisdiction as part of the continental shelf.
The announcement of the ban, as relayed by Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, is all but academic. The reason: The Chinese had already completed their work even before the declaration was divulged.
The Philippines staked its claim with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2009 on Benham, which was approved under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2012.