MANILA - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had funds to conduct research in the Benham Rise, also known as the Philippine Rise, a senator said Thursday.
Speaking to ANC, Senator Loren Legarda said a large part of the P500 million she put into marine biodiversity, either in the 2016 or 2017 budget, went to the DENR for purposes of Benham Rise research.
"There was a 500 million (peso) funding I excised from the National Greening Program that I put into marine biodiversity. A large part of it was dedicated for doing a database of the marine biodiversity Benham Rise," she said Thursday.
Legarda said she will ask DENR how it spent the budget. She said results of the study will be more beneficial now that President Rodrigo Duterte said only Filipino scientists are allowed to explore the resource-rich waters.
The senator assured that more funds will be allotted for the exploration of Benham Rise, where potential for oil and natural gas reserves were previously observed.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian earlier said P100 million has been set aside for the Benham Rise Development Authority, coordinative, policy-making body with regulatory powers formed last year.