Duterte orders ‘structures’ to protect fishing ground

Reuters MANILA (Reuters) — The Philippines went on the offensive on Tuesday to assert its sovereign rights over a fishing ground in the Pacific Ocean, stressing a need to protect it after a Chinese survey ship was monitored in the area last year.

Manila has lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing after a Chinese vessel was tracked moving back and forth over Benham Rise, a vast area east of the Philippines declared by the United Nations in 2012 as part of its continental shelf.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called for “structures” to be erected in the area to denote Philippine jurisdiction and told the navy that should Chinese vessels return, “go there and tell them straight that this is ours.”

The preemptive push by the Philippines underlines decades of mistrust of China over its activities in the South China Sea, which has been largely put aside since Duterte took office and sought to tap Beijing for business.

The foreign ministry said there was no question, and no rival claim, over Benham Rise, a 13 million hectare undersea region rich in biodiversity and yellow fin tuna.Speech

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