House adopts measure seeking P100M fund for Benham Rise research

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The House of Representatives has adopted a resolution urging the executive branch to allocate P100 million in funding for scientific research in the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, including marine exploration for mineral deposits and other resources that may be tapped as alternative sources of energy.

House Resolution 1636 cites the need to establish a trust fund with a seed amount of P100 million to be managed by the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC) for scientific research,including marine exploration of the region and acquisition of new equipment to improve the government’s research capabilities.

Benham Rise, now called Philippine Rise as directed by the President under Executive Order No. 25 series of 2017, is a 13 million-hectare undersea region that lies approximately 160 nautical miles east of Luzon and off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora.

The Philippine Rise is a massive formation of basalt, a common volcanic rock , and is described as a thickened portion of the oceanic crust of the Philippine Sea plate. Scientific data on seismic, magnetic, and other geological features of Philippine Rise indicate that the region is an extension of the country’s continental shelf.

In April 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) officially recognized and approved the Philippines’ claim over the Philippine Rise, giving the country sovereign rights over the territory.

The resolution states that scientific surveys and marine explorations have shown that the Philippine Rise is “rich in marine resources and massive mineral and gas deposits which can help the country achieve energy sufficiency.”

It adds that the award of Philippine Rise to the Philippines by the CLCS increased the areas of seabed subject to the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction, prompting the amendment of the country’s existing submarine maps which will likewise be used as the reference point by potential investors.