MANILA - Lawmakers have set aside P100 million for a policy-making body that will oversee development in Benham Rise, a senator said.
The Benham Rise Development Authority or BRDA, which was formed last year, is envisioned as a coordinative, policy-making body with regulatory powers over the undersea plateau off the country's Pacific coast.
"Para isa lang ang kausap kung gusto mong mag-research at mag-explore in that area," Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said, according to a transcript released by his office on Wednesday.
(So that you will talk to just one body if you want to research or explore that area.)
The P100 million will come from the 2018 budget, Gatchalian said, adding, "It's not that big but it's a good start."
Gatchalian and Sen. Sonny Angara pushed for the creation of the BRDA last year to ensure the protection of untapped resources in Benham Rise, which was declared part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
On Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a stop to all research done by foreigners on Benham Rise following criticism of reported Chinese involvement in one exploration.
The Philippines is locked in a dispute with China over reefs and outcrops in the South China Sea.