Sen. Bam Aquino’s Opening Statement for Benham Rise Hearing

We’d like to thank all of you for joining us here today for our first public hearing on the Philippine Rise, also known as the Benham Rise.

As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, I consider it my duty to give our local scientists and researchers the opportunity to address the government and the country on significant issues and valuable scientific initiatives.

 I’ve said this in the past, our Filipino scientists and researchers are sadly underappreciated in the country.

 There is certainly more we can do to, first, to strengthen the voice of the scientific community; and second, to provide our researchers, innovators, scientists and experts with substantial support in terms of budget and resources.

 Through these hearings, we hope to do both.

 Kayo po na may malalim na kaalaman sa ating Philippine Rise ang nararapat na pakinggan at konsultahin tungkol sa mga plano at hinaharap ng lugar na ito.

 Kayo po ang dapat mabigyan ng suporta at pondo sa pagsaliksik sa ating mahalagang likas na yaman sa Philippine Rise.

 Bilang Chairman ng Science and Technology Committee, nandito po tayo para pakinggan at bigyan ng nauukulang suporta mula sa gobyerno at mula sa budget.

 Bilang Pilipino naman po, isang Pilipinong nagmamahal sa ating bayan at nagmamasid sa isyu ng ating teritoryo, nandito rin po tayo upang mas maging malinaw ang  isyu ng Philippine Rise doon sa pakikitungo sa mga bansa sa ating paligid.

Narito ngayon ang mga eksperto sa mga ekspedisyon sa Philippine Rise, at mga eksperto sa ating national defense. We would like to thank Secretary Esperon for coming today.

 Is there a threat to the Philippine Rise, considering that on the other side of the West Philippine Sea, we have seen China already put up bases that threaten our sovereignty.

What should be done to protect the Philippine Rise and to ensure that it is the Filipino people that will benefit from its natural riches in the years to come?

 Ano po ang ating mga agreement, hindi lang sa bansang Tsina, kundi sa ibang mga bansa, at ano po ang pakikinabangan ng ating bayan at ng ating mga kababayan dito sa mga agreements na ito.

What resources do we need to pour into the Philippine Rise to make certain that its natural resources would benefit the Filipino?

 We hope to tackle all of these issues today during our Senate hearings on the Philippine Rise. Again, we would like to thank our experts, our friends from the military, Secretary Esperon, our friends from the DFA, our scientific community. Maraming salamat sa inyong pagpunta. And we hope to have a productive, clear and definitive meeting today when it comes to this territory in the Philippines. Maraming maraming salamat po at magandang umaga.

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