A PARTY-LIST lawmaker is supporting the proposed budget for an off-shore research facility in the Philippine Rise, formerly Benham Rise.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano underscored the need to have a research facility in the area in order to protect the natural resources of the country as well as determine the benefits that may be gained from the aquatic resources.
At the deliberation on the budget of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) a P6.2-billion allocation for an offshore research facility in the Philippine Rise was proposed.
“The establishment of a research facility in the Philippine Rise is necessary to protect the fishing grounds from exploitation and destruction. This is in support to the mandate of BFAR to develop, improve, manage, and conserve our fisheries and aquatic resources,” Alejano said.
He also noted the potential mineral, natural gas, and other marine resources in the area which could be developed in the future after thorough survey.
Likewise, the establishment of a research facility will strengthen the country’s claims in the area, the lawmaker said.
“Although it is well-established that we have sovereign rights in the Philippine Rise, there have been reports of a Chinese vessel spotted in the area under questionable intent. The facility could then help in providing permanent presence and prevent any encroachment,” he said.
Alejano lamented the removal of funding for the research facility in the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
“We see the long-term benefits of having a research facility there. We cannot squander such opportunity. The additional funding is then an essential start. I hope that our colleagues in the legislature would see the merit of the proposal,” he said.
For this matter, Alejano wrote a letter to the Committee on Appropriations in the House and Committee on Finance of the Senate asking the senators to consider the inclusion of the proposed funding for the research facility in the 2018 budget.