A resolution allocating P100 million to the study of the Benham Rise in disputed waters has been approved by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The Benham Rise is a 13 million-hectare undersea plateau approximately 160 nautical miles east of Luzon, off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora.
The plateau is located in the Central Basin Fault under the South China Sea.
The resolution, principally authored by Ilocos Sur Rep. Deogracias Savellano, said the approved budget will be used for the survey and mapping of the physical dimension of the area.
The resolution mandates the Departments of Science and Technology, Energy, Environment and Agriculture and several other government agencies to implement the necessary measures and related activities for the survey mapping of the Benham Rise.
According to Savellano, scientific surveys and marine explorations bared that the 2,000 to 2,500-meter deep Benham Rise is rich in marine resources and has massive natural gas and oil deposits.
The Benham Rise, he said, is also home to heavy metals and minerals that can be used for the manufacture of high-technology components.
He said information produced from the study of the area would serve as reference as well as raw data for the benefit of potential investors for the exploration, development and exploitation of the rich resources of the Benham Rise.
The resolution pushes for necessary amendments of the existing Philippine marine map
with the significant increase in Philippine territorial area and resources.
It provides that scientific data on seismic, magnetic and other geological features of the Benham Rise indicate that the region is an extension of the country’s continental shelf and that the plateau is bigger than Luzon, the country’s main group of islands.
The resolution said the Benham Rise is not included in the Philippine territory, despite the doctrine by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and provisions of Republic Act 9522 or the Archipelagic Baselines Law, which states that ththe e country’s territorial boundary extends beyond its territorial sea for up to 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone from the archipelagic baseline.