PHL deploying drones, assets to secure Benham Rise from foreign groups

The Philippines will be flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from military bases east of Luzon to monitor activities in Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise), Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said on February 6.

Piñol said this was agreed during the Cabinet meeting on February 5. During the Cabinet meeting, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that “the Philippine Rise is ours and any insinuation that it is open to everybody should end with this declaration.”

“Only Filipino scientists will be allowed to conduct researches and exploration in the Philippine Rise,” he added.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte examines one of the new military equipment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which was presented on the sidelines of the 82nd Anniversary Celebration of AFP at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City on December 20, 2017. Presidential photo

Prior to February 5 Cabinet meeting, foreign maritime scientific research is being allowed in Philippine Rise, however, President Duterte’s position “drastically changed following the statement issued by a foreign low-level diplomat suggesting that the Philippines does not own the whole of the Rise,” Piñol said.

“The Philippine Rise is a 25-million hectare continental shelf which extends from the eastern shores of the island of Luzon towards the Pacific Ocean,” Secretary Piñol said.

“The United Nations has declared 13-million hectares as part of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines and another 12-million hectares as part of the extended continental shelf,” he explained.

President Duterte also ordered the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force to deploy assets to secure Philippine Rise.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ two new Multi-Mission Off-shore Vessels, BRP Lapu-lapu and BRP Francisco Dagohoy will also be deployed to monitor presence of foreign groups.