Philippine Rise, significant to PH sovereignty and freedom-AFP Chief
Jun. 26, 2020
"We commemorate this anniversary to raise awareness of its importance, maintain marine conservation and protection, and assert our sovereign right," Gen. Santos said while emphasizing the years of dedicated service of Philippine soldiers in protecting the country's most precious maritime area.
It will be remembered that in 2012, the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which provides the comprehensive legal framework governing all activities and uses of the world's seas and oceans, granted to the Philippines the sovereign rights over the 13-million-hectare Benham Rise.
In 2017, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte renamed Benham Rise to Philippine Rise by virtue of Executive Order No. 25 to emphasize the country's sovereignty over the area.
"We, the whole of Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) and Area Task Force - North, will see to it that our territorial waters and marine interests are secured, our services are at the disposal of the Filipinos if needed," assured NOLCOM Commander, LtGen. Ramiro Manuel Rey.
The Philippine Rise remains to be a rich fishing ground for fishermen from Quezon, Aurora, Bicol, and other adjacent provinces along the northern tip of the Philippines.
As a protected food supply exclusive zone, marine scientists reported that the Philippine Rise is a home to at least 200 fish species, large predators, soft and hard corals, algae and sponges.
The Philippine Rise can potentially yield the highest catch rate of tuna species, including big-eye, yellowfin, and albacore.
Scientists also believed it has large amounts of natural gas deposits and manganese nodules.
Under UNCLOS ruling, the Philippines can explore, exploit, conserve, and manage natural resources as part of the country's maritime boundaries.
No one may undertake exploration of oil, gas, and mineral deposits without the express consent of the Philippines that has the exclusive right to authorize and regulate its extended continental shelf.
"As a pioneer in maritime protection, the Armed Forces is certain that NOLCOM will vigorously pursue all possible means to strengthen the protection of the area in order to achieve their purpose in securing our State and protecting our people," Gen. Santos said.
Cagayan Governor Manuel N. Mamba, who also graced the occasion, said he is confident that the maritime troops will prevail in "protect[ing] our sovereignty and national interest over the Philippine Rise and our Exclusive Economic Zone." (MTQ/PIA-IDPD with additional information from NTF-WPS)
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