A claim for a territory has finally won by the Philippines for the first time. It was named after the American geologist Andrew Benham who discovered it. Benham Plateau better known as Benham Rise is a 13 million hectare land located east of Luzon, and comparatively wider than Luzon, Samar and Leyte combined.
The plateau is 200 nautical miles away from the Philippines (making PH the nearest country from Benham), it was not included in the 30 million hectare territory of the country before. After officially filing a full territorial waters claim in April 2009, United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) finally made it part of the Philippines last April 2012.
Certain research procedures were done by DENR for the past 4-5 years in Benham discovering its potential to have massive mineral and gas deposits. An exploration was also conducted by a Filipino team recently with 28 members including researchers, scientists, and divers from May 3 to May 18. The government (particularly PCAARRD, an attached agency of DOST) has also funded a program called, “Exploration, Mapping and Assessment of Deep Water Areas” to learn better about the country’s newest part of the territory and how it should manage.
Experts from Korea and Japan expressed keen interest in partnering with the Philippines in exploring Benham Rise, saying that it will be beneficial to them as they will be able to know and understand better their areas that are prone to earthquake and earth’s tectonic plates. The said partnership was confirmed by DOST last February 22, 2016.
The territorial victory seems like a good way of diverting the frustrations of the Philippines when it comes to issues with the controversial Scarborough Shoal which is claimed by China.