The Philippines should "hitch" on foreign research vessels that seek to probe the Benham Rise, a marine expert said Wednesday.
Countries that wish to conduct research in the Benham Rise are required to seek permission from the Philippines that has sole jurisdiction over the continental shelf.
"If they are going to do that (research) in our area, we might as well take advantage of that by going with them. In that way, we can demand access to all information they have gathered," Atty. Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said in a Senate hearing.
Holding joint research activities in the Benham Rise will save the government a lot of money as the daily rent of a research boat alone costs $50,000, experts said.
Batongbacal recommended to join Chinese research expeditions as the Asian giant "has 20 (research) vessels that are going out 2-3 times a year."
"Even if we don't have a marine scientist, we can train an observer to dutifully log and explain the activities that they undertake everyday," Batongbacal said.
The Benham Rise should be protected by the government as other research showed that it is "potentially high" in gas and mineral resources, and a haven for tuna fishing, he said.