Gov’t urged to expedite development, exploration of ‘Philippine Rise’

MANILA — After Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order renaming the Benham Rise as Philippine Rise, a senator on Tuesday urged the government to start building naval and research facilities near the region to hasten the exploration of its full potential.

In a statement, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said there is an urgent need to hasten the conduct of extensive research so that strategies can be mapped out on how to develop the area.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said that changing its name has put emphasis on Philippine sovereign jurisdiction over the mass of underwater plateau.

“Now that we have done that, government must now shift its attention to how to utilize its natural resources before our neighbors discover its hidden treasures,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian’s committee is now finalizing its recommendations on the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA), as proposed by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, to spearhead research and development efforts over the resource-rich area.

The Philippine Rise, or Benham Rise, is a 24-million hectare underwater plateau located about 250 kilometers east of Northern Luzon. It is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, as well as the outer limits of the continental shelf, in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf issued on April 12, 2012.

On Monday, Malacañang announced that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order No. 25, renaming the Benham Rise to Philippine Rise, a move which the senator supports. ANP/