MANILA, Philippines - An area just off the coast of Aurora province that could be rich in natural gas and mineral deposits now officially belongs to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said the UN has verified that Benham Rise, the a 13-million-hectare area, belongs to the Philippines' continental shelf and territory.
"We were awarded the extension of continental shift in that area of Luzon which actually is believed to have lots of minerals and therefore would help for the development. We are happy that shows UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] supports our plans with regard to the continental shelf," Hernandez said briefing.
The Philippines' extended continental shelf was approved 3 years after the country filed an official claim on the area.
Meanwhile, Hernandez confirmed on Wednesday that China has around 23 boats at Scarborough shoal just off Zambales province.
He said the boats include 4 government ships, 8 fishing vessels and 11 service boats.
The Philippines has 2 ships in the area -- the BRP EDSA and a vessel sent by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.