The first part was written on August 16, 2011 with the title ‘Philippines pin hopes on Benham Rise’.
After submitting and defending a claim before the UN commission in 2008 for the 13-million hectare area off the coast of Aurora in Luzon, by virtue of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea’s (UNCLOS) definition of the continental shelf as “the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea” up to 370 km (200 nautical miles) from the archipelagic baseline, a reply from the UN was received asking the government to answer some questions before formally approving our claim through a resolution intended to be passed in 2012.
Perhaps the defense was articulately argued and the answers to the questions, convincing, that it made Benham Rise the Philippines’ first successful validation of a territorial claim under UNCLOS.
Finally, Benham Rise is legally ours! Thank God for Benham Rise!
Fortunately, unlike Scarborough Shoal or the Panatag Shoal and other portions of the South China Sea, no other country claims the area that is almost a quarter bigger than the 10.5-million hectare Luzon.
UNCLOS, incidentally, is the same UN convention the Philippines is invoking in its ongoing dispute with China over Scarborough Shoal.
“We own Benham Rise now. This is for future Filipinos,” Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje said.
Indeed it is. I may never see it explored and developed in my generation, but it feels good heading towards the sunset years of my life that the succeeding generations faces a brighter future.
According to experts Benham Rise keeps a large amount of heavy metals like manganese, whose accumulation into manganese nodules can help in the production of steel, among other things.
Considering the area is a seabed, which is known to contain gas hydrates, Benham Rise is also potentially a rich source of natural gas, according to them.
What I can only hope and pray is that, from here on, we shall continue having leaders and public servants who has the interest of the nation and the welfare of the people over and above their own hidden personal and political agendas.