ALLOWING CHINA to do research in Philippine waters is in pursuit of science, Malacañang defended yesterday, Jan. 18.

“Alam ninyo po it’s a scientific research. So science is science. Science knows no nationalities, and the requirement is that Philippine scientists must also participate in the scientific exercise and that the result must be shared with Philippine authorities,” Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. said at a televised press briefing in Legazpi City, Albay.

On the other hand, Magdalo Party-list Representative Gary C. Alejano warned that China may have other intentions in its so-called research.

“Who has history of grabbing our territories, laying claims to 80% of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone), harassing our fishermen, and blocking our patrol vessels? It is the Chinese,” Mr. Alejano said in a statement.

China has been laying claim to most of the South China Sea, which is contested by several countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

Mr. Roque insisted that “the quest for truth is all important, it knows no nationalities and that’s why all countries that would want to conduct joint research with us in this extended continental shelf are welcome to do so.”

“We have in fact establish guidelines on which of this request can be approved,” the spokesman added.

Mr. Alejano likened the actions of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration to that of former President Gloria M. Arroyo’s administration when it allowed the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) in the South China Sea (SCS) with China as well as Vietnam.

“What is happening now seems to be a repeat of JMSU entered into by the Arroyo administration in exchange of the anomalous NBN-ZTE and Manila Clark Northrail deals,” Mr. Alejano said.

The opposition lawmaker also urged Mr. Duterte’s administration “to be more transparent in its dealings with other countries, especially with China, to allay worries and assure the Filipino people that (they) are not being sold.” — Arjay L. Balinbin