Fisherfolk welcomes new name of ‘Benham Rise’, calls to strengthen our claim over the plateau
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) welcomes the renaming of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise as a way to exercise our claim over the 13-million hectare resource rich underwater ridge.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed the Executive Order No. 25 renaming the undersea feature.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said a welcome development to assert our rightful claim over the rise. The group urges President Duterte to fortify the protection of our territory from any foreign fishing fleets that exploit our waters and marine resources.
“Whether it is named Benham Rise or Philippine Rise, as long as the government allows foreign commercial fishing vessels to enter our territory, we may not be able to fully utilize our water. What’s in a name when the Filipino fisherfolk are not the ones who benefit from the abundance of our marine territory,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA laments the unceasing entry of foreign poachers in Philippine Rise. The fisherfolk group said even before China’s vessel has been spotted in the area, Filipino fishers reported presence of foreign poachers owned by Taiwan, Japan and South Korea doing their fishing expedition.
The fisherfolk group urges President Duterte to provide Filipino fisherfolk sufficient fishing gears and technologies in order for them to be able to reach the rise as it is necessary to use large and advanced fishing boats to fish in Philippine Rise which the small fisherfolk doesn’t have.
“The most effective way to maximize Philippine Rise is to equip the Filipino fisherfolk with modernized and sophisticated fishing technology followed by government’s utilization plan on how we will use our marine territory,” Hicap said.
Philippine Rise is located opposite to the disputed waters of South China Sea that has abundant marine resources particularly first-class tuna and untapped minerals and gas deposits. ###