Press Release
August 18, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to push for United Nations' (UN) recognition of the Philippines' territorial claim over the Benham Rise.

The Benham Rise, east of Luzon, spans 13 million hectares and attached to the Luzon land mass. It is believed to be rich in gas deposits.

The Philippines submitted its claim to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2009, and no counter-claimants have since challenged the Philippine's dominion over this territory.

Official recognition is still pending in the UN while the Philippines "answers questions" before a special United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) committee.

This recognition would give the Philippines legal basis to launch explorations in the area.

"We should seek to finalize UN recognition already before others see the value in the Benham Rise and contest our claim," said Angara during the DENR's budget hearing. "We should be more assertive in defending our territory."

Angara recalled the ongoing territorial dispute over the Spratly group of islands, and the incidents of bullying that occurred in the Recto Bank earlier this year when Chinese patrol boats reportedly harrassed Philippine vessels approximately 70 kilometers off the coast of Palawan, and very clearly within the country's 200-km Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as defined by the UNCLOS.

"It is critical for the Philippines to safeguard and protect its fences," said Angara. "We need this to support our growing population."

The solidified methane believed to be deposited in the Benham Rise is potentially valuable and can turn the Philippines into a gas exporter in the future. The recognition of our territorial claim over the area will also significantly increase Philippine territory by 30 to 43 million hectares.

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