Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Jean­nette I. An­drade @jian­dradeINQ

ABOARD BRP DAVAO DEL SUR— The Armed Forces of the Philip­pines wants to build a naval base in Casig­u­ran to guard against for­eign in­tru­sions on Philip­pine Rise off the coast of Aurora prov­ince.

“That is on the plan­ning board,” Lt. Gen. Em­manuel Sala­mat, the head of the North­ern Lu­zon Com­mand, said on Wed­nes­day.

Sala­mat said he also pro­posed the up­grade of port fa­cil­i­ties to main­tain the mil­i­tary’s pres­ence in order to sup­port ef­forts “to se­cure, pre­serve and con­serve our rich re­sources here in Philip­pine Rise.”

Big ships, such as frigates and strate­gic sealift ves­sels like the BRP Davao del Sur, were needed to pa­trol the vast re­gion.

Sup­port com­mit­ted

“All area com­mands re­quire this kind of [naval] plat­form to be able to en­sure the pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of our nat­u­ral re­sources and se­cure our ter­ri­tory,” he pointed out.

He hoped that the na­tional gov­ern­ment would pro­vide the re­sources to im­prove the AFP’s “sea power.”

The Navy also will be back­ing sci­en­tific re­search at Philip­pine Rise.

De­fense Un­der­sec­re­tary Car­dozo Luna said Pres­i­dent Duterte has com­mit­ted sup- port to un­der­wa­ter re­searchers and would be given full use of the BRP Gregorio Ve­lasquez, a re­search ves­sel ca­pa­ble of con­duct­ing oceano­graphic and hy­dro­graphic sur­vey.

“Just make a re­quest and the Navy, the Coast Guard, our boats are ready,” Luna said.

The ship was com­mis­sioned by the Navy in June 2016. It was named after a Philip­pine phys­i­ol­ogy pi­o­neer and na­tional sci­en­tist, Gregorio Ve­lasquez.

Then US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama com­mit­ted to pro­vide the ship to the Philip­pines dur­ing the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion fo­rum in 2015.

Gil Jac­into of the Uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines Marine Sci­ence In­sti­tute said he hoped that the re­search to be un­der­taken on Philip­pine Rise would be in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized.

“Work here will take us not only a cou­ple of years, it will take decades. It is not for our gen­er­a­tion only, it is for the next gen­er­a­tion,” Jac­into ex­plained.

The rise is a sub­ma­rine pro­lon­ga­tion of Lu­zon, ex­tend­ing up to 589 kilo­me­ters from the east­ern Philip­pine seaboard. Its reef­s­capes—con­tain­ing corals, al­gae, sponges and Hal­imeda—sus­tain a va­ri­ety of fish in­clud­ing the Pa­cific bluefin tuna.

Its seabed is be­lieved to hold cobalt-rich fer­ro­man­ganese crusts, hy­dro­ther­mal poly­metal­lic sul­fides and gas hy­drates.

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