Legarda: Benham Rise Research Funded Since 2016February 13, 2018
Senator Loren Legarda today said that, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, she has allocated funds for the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) expedition as early as 2016 and every year thereafter.
Legarda, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that in 2016, she allocated Php500 Million in the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau’s (DENR-BMB) Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP) to fund research and biodiversity assessment nationwide. Php47 Million of the Php500 Million was allocated for Philippine Rise, for equipment, for assessment and for its management framework.
“Foremost, I fully support the directive of the President to give priority to Filipino scientists and researchers in exploring and developing the natural resources in areas covered by our sovereign rights, including the Philippine Rise,” said Legarda.
The Senator explained, “In 2016, we already allocated funds for research in the Philippine Rise especially since initial explorations showed 100 percent coral cover in several sites. In 2017, we allocated Php32 Million for assessment and baseline activities in the Philippine Rise, and then again for 2018, Php60 Million was allocated in the DENR budget for the Philippine Rise—Php30 Million for geologic and offshore mapping under the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Php30 Million for scientific expedition and management of coastal habitat under the BMB,” Legarda said.
Legarda noted that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) already did an exploration, mapping and assessment of deep water areas in the Philippine Rise from 2014-2016 with a total budget of Php39.575 Million.
“We await the consolidated results of these research activities from our government agencies. Based on the initial information we received, the area shows great potential in terms of energy, mineral and other biological marine resources that are vital to harnessing energy and food security in our country. Toward this end, exploratory and development efforts in the area should be done in a sustainable manner and it starts with building an extensive inventory of marine resources in the area. These scoping activities will help us determine the next steps and the resources needed to support our research and development efforts, ” she stressed.
“These resources are being allocated to protect and preserve what is rightfully ours and for our future generations under the UNCLOS and our laws. Thus, we will continue to find ways by which our vastly talented scientists and researchers may be given the wherewithal to undertake the necessary research and development activities,” said Legarda.
In 2011, Legarda was part of the Philippine delegation that met with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in New York regarding the country’s territorial claim over the Philippine Rise.
In 2012, the CLCS ruled that under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Benham Rise is located within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.