Various Senators had expressed their opinion on the government’s next move in addressing its ongoing territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea.
Senators had agreed that with or without the threat of war from China, the government should already start exploring and exploiting the natural resources in the area.
In separate interviews, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Richard Gordon said that the country has the sovereign and exclusive right to exploit resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
For Senator Sonny Angara, the country should start its venture in the area but suggested that it should “proceed carefully” in order to not aggravate the tension in the area. He also mentioned that it is just about high time for the government to consider exploring other options of energy as the natural gas reserves in the Malampaya Plant off the coast of Palawan will be depleted soon.
Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that the Duterte administration should consider entering into joint exploration ventures as the country currently doesn’t have the financial means to engage in such endeavors. He also said that the country must try to secure a much better deal than the one with the Malampaya plant.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said that the Duterte administration should now focus on enhancing the surveillance and research facilities on Philippine Rise.
“There is an urgent need for us to hasten the conduct of extensive research so we can map out strategies on how to develop the area and use its rich natural resources to enrich the lives of the Filipino people.” he said.
Currently, the Senate Economic Affairs Committee is finalizing its recommendations for the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA) in order to commence research and development efforts in the underwater territory.