National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Monday told the Senate committee on science and technology that it would be to the Philippines’ national interest to encourage maritime scientific research (MSRs) in its own territorial waters.
Speaking at a Senate joint committee hearing into the maritime scientific studies conducted in the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, Esperon said that the government stands to benefit from MSRs on its own territorial waters, be it done by local or foreign entities.
As chairman of the Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, Esperon said he agrees that the University of the Philippines Marine Scientific Institute (UP-MSI), and the Philippine Council for Aquatic, Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Development and the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development Center “should conduct studies at the Philippine Rise and the West Philippine Sea to account for the aquatic, mineral and oil and gas deposit in the maritime territory.”
“MSRs should not even be confined to these entities, but any national government agency and state university that have statutory mandate to do research and development should be encouraged and supported to do MSR,” Esperon told the committee chaired by Sen. Paolo Aquino IV.
“The Philippines has a water area of 1,830 square kilometers and the coastline that stretches for 36,289 kilometers. For obvious reasons, it is about seven times our land territory. For obvious reasons, the country’s maritime assets are as important as the land,” Esperon said.
“Therefore, their sustainable development is included in our national plans and good stewardship over all the bodies of waters within the archipelago and the maritime receives of which the Philippine is entitled under the UN convention of the law of the sea is a collective responsibility of all Filipinos,” he stressed.