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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday that there is a big possibility that China is looking to explore mineral-rich Benham Rise after one of its survey ships was seen in the area located in the northern coastline of Isabela.
Lorenzana said they monitored the Chinese survey ship in the area in 2016.
“One of their survey ship is also plying the Benham Rise already,” Lorenzana told reporters during the 1st Kapihan sa Kampo at the National Defense College of the Philippines Honor Hall in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
“Last year they have been, I think it was monitored for about three to six months going there,” he said.
Lorenzana said that based on satellite photos they received, the survey ship started to ply the area sometime in July last year and it continued up to December 2016.
“We remember that clearly is because that survey ship had an accident inside the ship when they were somewhere there in the central Philippines in the Pacific Ocean,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana said he has instructed the Philippine Navy to accost and drive away if they see the ship in the area. (Francis T. Wakefield)