PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi yesterday kicked off a two-day All-Filipino maritime scientific research and expedition at the shallowest portion of the Philippine Rise.
Among the activities scheduled are the laying of Philippine flag markers and the casting of buoy to be overseen by the Area Task Force-North under the Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The area is thought to be rich in energy resources, including natural gas which, when tapped, can power Philippine economic development under the Duterte administration.
Aside from the President and Secretary Cusi, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel B. Salamat, commander of the AFP Luzon Command, is expected to lead the activities.
The event commemorates the sixth year anniversary of the ruling issued by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) favorable to the Philippines, including the renaming of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
The Philippine government has declared sovereignty over a vast tract of underwater land mass off the coast of Isabela province in the country’s northeastern seaboard believed to contain rich marine life and possibly oil and gas resources.
President Duterte’s visit is to re-affirm Philippine sovereignty over the area even as he has declared willingness to allow joint research and exploration activities with other countries for mutual benefit.
Also joining the expedition is University of the Philippines professor Clarita Carlos.