CONGRESS has adopted a resolution to create a P100-million trust fund for scientific research, feasibility studies, marine exploration and procurement of new equipment to beef up research capability in the Philippine Rise.
“Scientific surveys and marine explorations showed that the Philippine Rise is rich in marine resources and massive mineral and gas deposits which can help the country achieve energy sufficiency,” the resolution, written by Ilocos Sur District 1 Rep. Deogracias Victor Savellano, said.
“The award of the Philippine Rise to the Philippines by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf increased the areas of seabed subject to our country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction, prompting the amendment of our existing submarine maps, which will likewise be used as the reference point by potential investors,” the resolution added.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte banned all foreign scientific exploration in the Philippine Rise, internationally known as Benham Rise.
The Palace said the President ordered an end to all foreign research in the area in a Cabinet meeting, after Chinese scientists completed their expedition.
“The President ordered that henceforth only Filipinos will be allowed to conduct scientific research... and explore and exploit for natural resources in the Philippine Rise,” a spokesman said.
The 13-million-hectare underwater land mass, believed to be rich in maritime resources, lies 250 kilometers off the east coast of Luzon.
In 2012 the United Nations recognized the Philippines’ exclusive economic rights to Benham Rise as part of its continental shelf.