BAGONG TERITORYO NG PILIPINAS: Unang misyon sa Benham Rise naging matagumpay

Benham Rise 1

Image retrieved from: Benham Rise Program Twitter

Naging matagumpay ang misyon ng mga unang Pilipinong siyentipiko at mananaliksik na tumungo at nag-aral sa bagong tuklas na teritoryo ng bansa ang Benham Rise.

Nagtagal ang pag-aaral ng grupo sa lugar May 6 hanggang May 16.

Sa panayam noong May 21 ng programang news.PH ng Solar News Channel ay idinetalye ng tatlong eksperto na nakasama sa misyon ang naging takbo ng kanilang ginawang pag-aaral sa Benham Rise.

Noong May 3 ay nagsimula ang paglalakbay ng grupo ng mga siyentipiko sa pangunguna ni Dr. Hildie Nacorda ng University of the Philippines.  Noong May 6 ay ginawa ng exploration team ang unang pagsisid sa lugar kasama ang mga ekspertong diver.

“We usually use a GoPro. (Camera) We drop the GoPro over the site to select dive sites, once we select the site we drop anchor and then we lower the sinker line from where the divers descent. The currents are very strong so we had to have safety lines the whole time the divers are down there,” pahayag ni Dr. Cesar Villanoy.

Pinaniniwalaan na aabot ng hanggang 3,000 meters ang pinamalalim na parte bago maabot ang mismong surface ng Benham Rise subalit sa naturang misyon ay hanggang 50 meters pa lamang ang narrating ng mga divers.

Tinataya naman na mula sa sea surface ay may lalim na hanggang 5,000 meters bago maarating ang mismong sea bed sa bagong tuklas na teritoryo ng bansa.

“We came without knowing what we find. It’s a 50-50 chance we would be diving because we did not know what depth we will land onto. We didn’t know how shallow was shallow, or how deep was deep,” ayon kay Nacorda

“We want to see more of what we saw because I think we are just at the tip of the iceberg, there’s something more that we need to see and it is not just for us it’s for everybody,” pahayag pa nito.

Ayon naman kay Dr. Mario Aurelio na kasama rin sa misyon, sa ngayon ay kakaunti pa lamang ang nakuha nilang kaalaman hinggil sa naturang lugar. Aniya, nangangailangan ng mas malaking pondo at mga kagamitan para maipagpatuloy ang pag-aaral doon. “As far as how to do it we know but then it’s a different story if we can do it because of the absence of equipment,” pahayag pa nito.

Sa kabila nito, nilinaw naman ni  Villanoy na sa ngayon ay may binubuo ng hakbang ang Department of Science and Technology (DOST) para maipagpatuloy pa ang pag-aaral sa Benham Rise.

“We actually we just got approval from the DOST to start a program called ‘Geophysical Coral Mapping’ so that comes with the equipment it goes deeper than what we currently have but we hope that we will be able to use that next year again in Benham Rise,” pahayag pa nito.

NAMRIA was the lead agency for entitlement because it is the mandated agency to do such mission. Now the consequential activities can now be branch out into different expertise or agencies. For example the biological water column could be to the Marine Science Institute and the geophysical underneath would be right now I am thinking of the Department of Energy and the Philippine National Oil Company who have the knowledge about what to do in those areas,” pahayag naman ni Aurelio.

Kapwa naman binigyan diin ng dalawang mananaliksik ang kahalagahan ng ibayo pang pagtuklas sa nasabing lugar.

Benham rise 2

Photo courtesy of Dr. Gil Jacinto and Rappler

Ayon kay Villanoy, mahalagang pag-aralan ang lugar dahil sa papel na ginagampan nito sa sistema ng North Pacific. “This area is also very important in the North Pacific circulation. It’s a very critical part of the current system in the Pacific, so we have to continue also to study all those because this can help us understand better the biology, the chemistry of that part of the water”.

Para naman kay Aurelio, importanteng pag-aralan pa ang Benham Rise dahil ipinaglaban natin ito at upang makita pa ang potensyal ng lugar na pinaniniwalaang mayaman sa natural gas at mga mineral tulad ng manganese. “We fought hard for this entitlement and we should continue on and not to drop the ball and from my side I’d like to see a strategy, a plan that will go even deeper into the crust and so we can see what’s in there in terms of natural resources, minerals as well as gas or oil in that area”.

Ang mga grupo ng eksperto at scientist na nagtungo sa Benham Rise ay nagmula sa UP-Diliman-Marine Science Institute (MSI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, UP Los Baños School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) and Institute of Biological Sciences, UP Mindanao, UP Baguio, Xavier University at Ateneo de Manila University.

Inaprubahan ng United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) noong April 12, 2012 ang Benham Rise bilang bahagi ng continental shelf ng bansa tatlong taon matapos maghain at matagumpay na maidepensa ng Pilipinas ang petisyon nito sa UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS).  Ang UNCLCS nabuo sa ilalim ng UNCLOS.

Hindi gaya ng Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) at Kalayaan Islands (Spratly Islands), walang ibang bansa na umangkin sa Benham Rise maliban sa Pilipinas.

Ang naturang lugar ay nasa gawing kanluran ng bansa, na nakaharap sa karagatang Pasipiko malapit sa lalawigan ng Aurora.-DCR

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