‘PH has exclusive rights to explore Benham Rise’ | Global News

‘PH has exclusive rights to explore Benham Rise’

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 10:22 AM March 14, 2017
Benham Rise

Benham Rise

Senator Sonny Angara is urging the government to assert the country’s sovereignty over Benham Rise as he pressed for the immediate passage of a bill that would develop the 13-million hectare undersea landmass in the Pacific Ocean.

“Benham Rise is undisputedly part of Philippine territory. We have the exclusive rights to explore and exploit its natural resources,” Angara said in a statement on Tuesday in the light of a Chinese official’s recent statement that the Philippines could not claim ownership of the region.

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The senator pointed out that Benham Rise officially became part of the Philippines in 2012 after the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf ruled that under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), the undersea landmass was contiguous with the country’s continental shelf and hence, fell under its exclusive economic zone.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, however, was quoted in the media as saying that the UN approval did not mean that the region is part of the Philippines’ territory.

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READ: PH can’t claim Benham Rise as its own territory—Beijing

“We must protect what’s clearly ours. It is high time also to accelerate the development of Benham Rise as potential rich source of alternative energy, marine resources, and tourism destination,” Angara said.

The senator then pushed for the swift passage of his Senate Bill 312, which aims to create the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA).

READ: PH mulls structure on mineral-rich Benham Rise

“It’s been five years since the UN approved our territorial claim, and yet Benham Rise remains largely unexplored. There is a pressing need to scale up and sustain the scientific study and exploration of the undersea region in light of such unauthorized foreign incursion in our territory,” he said.

Angara said the creation of BRDA will address the need for a “coordinated and integrated approach in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programs that will optimize its full potential.”

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“A proper inventory of Benham Rise is crucial in crafting a roadmap on how the country can develop and ultimately benefit from the undersea plateau especially as a potential energy source,” he said.

The senator said the promotion and facilitation of public and private investments in Benham Rise will also spur economic development in Isabela, and in his home province in Aurora.

“Such investments will lead to job generation especially for the locals,” added Angara, who was a former representative of Aurora province before becoming a senator. IDL

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TAGS: Benham Rise, Benham Rise Development Authority, China, Philippines, Sonny Angara, territorial dispute, Unclos
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