The country’s assertion of sovereignty over resource-rich Philippine Rise has been a success after a civilian recreational vehicle first reached the buoy placed by the Philippine government to mark the shallow portion of the country’s north easternmost area.
Party-list Rep. Koko Nograles was among those who rode a personal watercraft, commonly known as a jet ski, from the BRP Davao del Sur (LD 602) towards BRP Tarlac (LD 601) and then to the orange buoy painted with a Philippine flag in the shallow portion of Philippine Rise, 180 kilometers off Casiguran, Aurora province.
“The purpose was assertion and that was achieved in my opinion. We reached the area using a civilian vehicle to touch the buoy,” Nograles told mediamen.
Nograles was joined by President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s son Sebastian, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on board six jet skis during the visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to BRP Davao del Sur on May 15.
“We expected that the critics will find fault but clearly the point is for the country to assert itself and that is what we proudly accomplished,” Nograles said.
Some critics said Duterte should fulfill a statement he made during the 2016 presidential polls campaign that he would ride a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea to assert the country’s sovereignty over the disputed islands.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command (AFP-Nolcom) Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat presented a commemorative medal to Nograles on board the BRP Davao del Norte, the lead ship for nine military and research vessels that proceeded to the area for a research expedition to mark the first year anniversary of the renaming of the area which had been originally known as Benham Rise.
In 2012, the United Nations granted the Philippines’ claim to Philippine Rise as an extension of the country’s continental shelf. The undersea plateau and biodiversity hotspot located off eastern Luzon is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. (PNA)
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