Gov’t eyes creation of nat’l research academic fleet: Esperon

MANILA The government has a plan to establish a national research academic fleet, in a bid to fulfill its goal of having a "robust and strengthened" marine scientific research in the country, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. bared on Wednesday.

Esperon, in a speech delivered during the second and last day of the National Marine Summit 2019, said the idea is part of the current administration's plan to develop the country's capability to conduct marine scientific research.

The objective is for mankind, but first and foremost, for Filipinos to benefit from the sustainable exploitation and use of the country's marine resources, he said.

But while these researches yielded many positive results, so much still needs to be done, Esperon added.

Esperon's statement came following his earlier announcement that the moratorium on foreign maritime scientific research (MSR) in the Philippines's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) will soon be lifted.

Speaking before the maritime experts, Esperon said the government wanted the proposed national research academic fleet to have appropriate state-of-the art technology and fully capable empowered Filipino scientists.

Our objective is not just to exploit but also to exploit in a sustainable manner, ensuring that we protect and conserve the marine ecosystems even by learning and benefitting from the living and nonliving marine resources of our vast waters, he said.

It's only the beginning. We have so much to learn from the discovery We could only learn to expand our knowledge if we go out there and conduct MSR activities, he added.

To assert territorial rights over the Philippine EEZ, Duterte in February 2018 prohibited the conduct of foreign scientists' marine exploration and studies in the country's waters, specifically in the Philippine Rise, a 13-million-hectare continental shelf located east of Luzon.

But with the lifting of the presidential order, Esperon said foreign research groups will once again have the authority to collaborate with and assist Filipino scientists, especially in conducting researches using advanced technologies and better-equipped ships.

Marine scientific research can certainly help government policy- and decision-makers to arrive at an informed and science-based policies and decisions toward a sustainable management of our maritime domain and marine resources, Esperon said.

To harmonize all MSR efforts by various agencies and institutions, harnessing existing mechanisms for cooperation and cooperative undertakings is, as we know, is essential, he added.

Congress' support asked

To attain the government's objective, Esperon admitted that legislative intervention and support are needed.

Esperon expressed optimism that lawmakers' would support the Duterte administration's initiatives to develop the country's marine resources.

So Congress, please help us. We have to synergize our efforts for a holistic and collective approach to address the institutional, budgetary and human resource constraints, he said.

Albay Second District Representative Joey Salceda, who was also present on the last day of the marine summit, vowed to push for the government's legislative agenda, including the measures aimed at promoting the sustainable use of the Philippines' marine resources.

All waters in the Philippines belong to the state We will rationally manage the water resources of the country, Salceda said. Kung ano po ang kailangan ng Pangulo ay ide-deliver naming iyan (We will deliver what the President needs).

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who serves as the chairperson of the National Coast Watch Council, thanked the stakeholders who participated in and contributed to the two-day National Marine Summit.

Through this consultation, there has been a genuine exchange of ideas between government agencies, NGOs (non-government organizations), civil society organizations, the scientific community, business sector, and other major groups, he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency