eastwind journals 193
By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification.
Disclaimer – the views in this article are those of the author alone.
Benham Submarine Plateau (Benham Rise) is a 13-million hectare undersea mesa, 250 km. east of Dinapigue, Isabela, awarded to the Philippines by the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) in December 2013. It is rich in mineral and gas resources. In July 2016, China Daily reported China’s secret undersea exploration. Cantanduanes fishermen roamed the area during  pre-Hispanic times.
This vast undersea plateau would easily rival the Spratleys in terms of area and resources. China is drooling over this vast resource. Luzon Island in the Philippines is now being sandwiched by Chinese illegal territorial claims, one in the Sprately’s in the east and the other Benham Rise in the west.
Benham Rise is an undersea micro-continent which is part of the Philippine’s continental shelf, the basis of the UNCLOS decision awarding it to the Philippines. It is a submerged extinct volcanic ridge located within the West Philippine Sea Basin. The deadly 1990 earthquake which devastated Baguio City was triggered by a collision of tectonic plates (tectonic subduction) within this basin. Scientists theorize that continuous subduction through the millennia is the reason for Benham’s vast resources. There have been several international surveys of the area. Indeed, developed nations are also drooling over this resource, a potential ingredient for future energy wars.
It is a good strategy for the Philippines to seek a development partner in the extraction of Benham’s resources, especially natural gas, which may dwarf Malampaya ten fold. A consortium rather than a single partner will neutralize future potential conflicts, for example, a Ph-US-UK-China consortium, where the Philippines is the land owner.
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