“What happened to the P500-M research fund?” – PAMALAKAYA to DENR
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) what happened to the P500-million budget allotted to the agency for marine biodiversity research of the Philippine Rise (formerly known as the Benham Rise).
The group learned that Senator Loren Legarda in the early part of 2017 excised P500 million from the DENR’s National Greening Program (NGP) to the research purpose of Philippine Rise to tap the resource-rich underwater plateau’s marine potentials.
But the group said the DENR has yet to release to the public any result of the research or if the budget was spent properly.
“The DENR has been keeping silent on the issue of Philippine Rise despite the government pronouncement that the Filipino scientist could not afford to conduct research due to lack of funding. The budget allotted to the agency is enough for research because according to scientists, it will only take at least P300 million for the research on Philippine Rise. Now with that big budget allotted to the agency, who is to say that we still need foreign countries like the China, U.S., and Japan to conduct research in our own yard?” PAMALAKAYA Chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
Due to the strong public clamor and opposition, President Rodrigo Duterte has terminated all joint research activities in the Philippine Rise including approved applications of China, Japan, U.S., and South Korea.
The group recalled several workshops conducted by the DENR last year but said the latter has not released any report on the result of those workshops. Also, PAMALAKAYA questioned if all the P500 million were spent on the workshops alone.
“The DENR owes the public an explanation on what happened to the P500-M research fund allotted to them. The public deserves to know the truth because the issue of Philippine Rise is a matter of our sovereign rights and utilization of our marine resources,”
“This agency must act as the lead government body to study our own marine resources for the proper utilization of the Filipino people,” ended Hicap. ###