President Rodrigo Duterte’s tough stance on Benham Rise, or the so-called the Philippine Rise, was well ground amid threats, according to Buhay Party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza.
“The entire 13 million hectares of Benham is rightfully ours. In fact, the Navy and the Coast Guard should step up their patrol operations there to forcefully assert our exclusive rights over the region and its natural resources,” Atienza said on Sunday.
He called on the government agencies to encourage Filipino fisherman to venture into Benham Rise “ and vigorously project the country’s rights over the region’s marine assets.”
Earlier, the President said he would “go to war” to defend Benham Rise, and that he would be the first to ship out to guard the region.
In 2009, the Philippine government formally asserted its rights over Benham Rise, Atienza said, no other country was interested to claim the island.
“This was why our assertion over the region was readily approved by the United Nations,” he said, adding China never claimed Benham Rise as part of the Chinese continental shelf.
“The outer limits of the Philippine seabed that we submitted to the UN’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on April 9, 2009 encompassed Benham [Rise]. We had Benham surveyed and mapped. We specified the location of the submerged region in our submission to the UN,” he noted.
The party-list representative earlier asked Malacañang to certify his bill seeking to establish a Benham Rise protection and development authority to safeguard and manage the resources found in the waters, seabed and subsoil of region rightfully belonging to the Philippines.