[OPINION] Filipinos exploring Benham Rise region for years
This government’s claim that the Philippines cannot explore Benham Rise without China is a total sham meant to disempower and demean Filipinos and their capacity and capability as a people
In the first place, Filipinos have been exploring the Benham Rise Region for years now.
From 2004 to 2008, then again in 2010, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sent BRP Hydrographer Presbitero on multiple bathymetric and hydrographic surveys of the Benham Rise Region. The surveys produced a highly detailed 3D digital bathymetric model (resolution of 1 meter for an area covering 30 million hectares) of the entire region, compliant with the highest quality standards of the International Hydrographic Organization. That was a Philippine vessel with full Filipino crew (mariners of the Coast and Geodetic Survey Division) funded completely by the Philippine government. That batheymetric model was absolutely necessary for the Philippines to support its claim to the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles with 2D and 3D geomorphological analysis.
For the past decade, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has been annually conducting fisheries research and experimental fishing expeditions in the Benham Rise region, particularly in areas between the coast of Luzon and Benham Bank, to determine the tuna fishery potential of its waters. This has been undertaken by the M/V DA-BFAR multi-mission research vessel for so long that BFAR has confidence in promoting and opening the region as the country’s new tuna fishing ground.