The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) wants at least P5 billion from the 2018 national budget to be earmarked for the protection and conservation of the Benham Rise, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Thursday.
"The initial budget will be used to start efforts to establish a research and monitoring facility in the Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the Rise," Piñol said in a statement posted on his official Facebook account.
The facility that will have a landing pad for helicopters will also serve as a refuge area of Coast Guard vessels and Filipino fishing vessels that will venture into the area off Luzon's northeast coast , Piñol added.
Aside from the construction of a research hub, part of the budget for the continental shelf will fund the "acquisition of air assets such as patrol helicopters and long-flying drones."
The funding request for the Benham Rise came after agriculture and fisheries officials embarked on a 3-day expedition to the submerged shelf to assess potential livelihood and research activities in the resource-rich area.