Saturday, February 9, 2013


UNDERWATER PLATEAU. Found near Aurora, the 13-million hectare Benham Rise is part of Philippine territory. Screen grab from a document the Philippines submitted to UN.

Aurora has languished too long in this unenviable list we call the 20 poorest provinces of the country. That dark chapter in the province’s history was long over and therefore, it is safe to say I am speaking in the past tense.  For Aurora has since made giant strides to development such that is has become the envy of other provinces.
But as people are won’t to say, when it rains, it pours. While it is progressing by leaps and bounds, Aurora’s potential for growth has not come or came close to a halt. The possibilities for this province named after former First Lady Dona Aurora Aragon Quezon seems endless just like unlimited call and text promoted by the country’s leading telecommunications companies.

What makes me salivate even more over Aurora’s growth potentials is the emergence of Benham Rise as a potential cash cow for the province. The 13-million-hectare continental shelf off the coast of Aurora and Isabela is a veritable gold mine which is unlike the Spratly Islands which is being claimed in whole or in part by China and other nations.

I have written an article about Benham Rise but what fuels the adrenaline rush about this is Congressman Sonny Angara’s expression of support for the government’s plan to explore Benham Rise which the United Nations has recently declared as part of Philippine territory.

Cong. Sonny said he would move for the immediate approval of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) budget this year at the House appropriations committee, as this would hasten the move to study opportunities for Benham Rise.

“I believe in opportunities, in possibilities. These are the things that we must not fail to capitalize and to take advantage of. If there will be legislations that would be needed and required in the future, count me in, I will help,” he said.

The Benham Rise is not only home for deep-water fish such as blue fin tuna but is also believed to be rich in natural gas and minerals.

Angara said an in-depth study would allow the government to map out a comprehensive plan on how to effectively utilize the Benham Rise.

Never mind that there are reports foreign fishermen are allegedly poaching in waters off Benham Rise, which makes it important for the country to protect its territory and for the Philippine Navy to beef up its surveillance in the area so no foreign vessels, commercial or otherwise are trespassing within its legal territory.

If fully explored, Benham Rise could make Aurora rise, too. Weather weather lang yan. At suwerte suwerte.

Angara ng buhay sa Aurora pag nagkataon. ‘Di ba Cong Sonny?

Benham Rise is a 13-million hectare seismically active underwater region and extinct volcanic ridge located approximately 250 kilometers east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela.

It is the first territory that the Philippines won under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), the same convention the Philippines invokes in its two-month standoff with China over Scarborough Shoal on the western side of the country.

The Philippines filed its claim for Benham Rise in 2008 and the UN has officially approved the claim in April 2012.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has previously said it has plans to also explore the potentially rich marine resources at the new territory, as well as the largely unexplored Pacific seaboard

The DOE has previously auctioned energy blocs in the western side of the Philippines under PECR-4.

However, investor interest has been dampened by the ongoing territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, which claims all of the South China Sea (or West Philippine Sea). (Jason de Asis)

NYC to Launch a Summit on Children’s Rights and Welfare

MANILA, February 9, 2013-The Rights and Welfare of Children Summit will be held on February 15, 2013 at the Dear Manang’s Events Place, Tetuan Highway, Zamboanga City. The summit is a joint initiative of the National Youth Commission, the Office of Deputy Speaker Ma. Isabelle G. Climaco, the Department of Education, the EDSA People Power Commission and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.

Around two hundred (200) individuals ages 11-14 years old who are in-school, out of school, with special needs/ disabilities including those who belong to indigenous communities will convene to address the many problems, issues and challenges that compromise the welfare and the best interest of our children especially in the southernmost part of Mindanao where terrorism is still a societal problem and children are seen as victims of violence.

Commissioner Earl Saavedra, the Head of the Summit Organizing Committee, explained that the areas within the back-channel route towards the neighboring ASEAN states are locations where frequent child-trafficking activities happen. “The National Youth Commission prevented an incident, where fifty (50) children and youth (mostly women), were brought to Zamboanga City from Basilan and were promised with jobs and scholarship by a certain illegal recruiter. The condemning act was an eye-opener to agencies that work for the rights and welfare not only of the children and youth but including the other sectors of society. It was when we conceptualized the idea of organizing an activity to push for such important advocacy focusing on children” he further stated.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Ma. Isabelle Climaco- Salazar commented that the activity will open many more opportunities where children’s importance and roles are highlighted as a significant part of the nation. “It will make all of us realize that as early as now, they are part of our nation building efforts and we need to protect, care and love them”, she added. 

The one-day activity on February 15, 2013 includes sessions/workshops on Self Discovery and Identity, Establishing Oneself in the Community through Artwork Exposures; a discussion on Child’s Rights and Welfare (Dual approach mechanism on peer and moderator counseling and hands-on activities); and a presentation of the Children’s Agenda and launching of the Local Children’s Council/ Organization as its culminating activity.

Undersecretary Alberto T. Muyot of the Department of Education and Commissioner Percival Cendaña of the National Youth Commission are also expected to grace the program.

Legarda Joins Filipino-Chinese Community in Celebrating 2013 Chinese New Year

MANILA, February 9, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda expressed solidarity with the Filipino-Chinese community as she enjoined all Filipinos to share in the celebration of the 2013 Chinese New Year.

“I wish to extend my warmest greetings to all Filipino-Chinese on the occasion of the 2013 Chinese New Year. The Filipino-Chinese community has played a key role in the economic and cultural development of the country. They are known not only for their acumen in entrepreneurship, but also for their deep sense of volunteerism and corporate social responsibility,” Legarda said.

“For centuries, Filipino and Chinese communities have had extensive ties. Our relationship then was primarily built on trade and commerce, but it has gradually evolved so as to encompass the economic, and socio-cultural history of the Philippines,” she added. “We must cultivate the good relationship that our two cultures have forged.”

Legarda is co-author of the bill declaring the Chinese New Year as a special working holiday in the Philippines. The proposed measure has been approved by both the Senate and the House.

“Under this bill, we aim to recognize the immense contribution of the Filipino-Chinese in the Philippines and further strengthen the ties that bind us,” she concluded.


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