MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is seeking P5-B fund for the protection of Benham Rise, now called Philippine Rise.
In a Facebook post on May 18, Secretary Manny Piñol of the Department of Agriculture (DA), under whose department the BFAR is attached, said the agency wants the inclusion of the said amount in next year’s budget.
“The proposed P5-B budget for the Philippine Rise was submitted yesterday to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) during the technical committee hearing on the DAF budgetary requirements for 2018,” wrote Piñol.
The proposed funding is said to be a last minute addition to the budgetary proposal and forms part of the government’s plan to protect and conserve the 25-million hectare shallow continental shelf as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Two weeks ago, Piñol personally led an expedition to the Benham Rise mainly to study whether it is viable to set up floating structures in the region that will serve as rest and refuge area for fishermen and scientists.
The initial budget will be used in establishing a research and monitoring facility in the Benham Bank; believed to be shallowest portion of the Rise. The proposal also include acquisition of air assets such as patrol helicopters and long-flying drones.
“President Duterte approved the proposals and directed the DAF to work with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Dept. of National Defense to initially conduct reconnaissance and patrol missions in the area,” Piñol said.