Statement of Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
I support President Duterte’s pivot in Benham Rise.
With the West Philippine Sea effectively fenced off, we have to look to the “east Philippine seas” for our food and fuel.
If there’s an impregnable Great Wall of Sand from the Scarborough Shoal to the Spratlys, then we have to look elsewhere for our power and protein needs.
Thus, protecting Philippine Rise means protecting our future food and energy security.
The Malampaya field off Palawan is projected to run out of natural gas by 2024. Malampaya supplies 45 percent of Luzon’s electricity. Luzon is home to 57 million people.
This “zero dark hour” prospect for the world’s 4th most populous island should spur us this early to find replacement energy sources.
Joint exploration with other claimants in the WPS is the “low hanging fruit” option, and the other is to explore for oil in other promising areas, like the Philippine Rise.
The other imperative is the need to boost our fisheries output. If the entire Western waters of the country have become a no- or restricted fishing zone, then we have to cast our nets elsewhere.
One estimate pegs at P200 million a day our fishery losses if the whole WPS becomes another country’s fishpond.
This hits us where it hurts most – our stomach. And we are now feeling the pinch. Kahit sa palengke, produkto na lang ng aquaculture ang kadalasang nakikita, kaunti na lang ang isdang dagat.
In 2010, our commercial fishing production was 1.242 million metric tons. Last year, it was 946,000. Or almost a 20 percent drop. The marine component of our municipal fisheries catch was 1.184 million MT in 2010. It plummeted to 962,000 MT last year.
Kaya suportado ko ang panukalang dagdagan ng pondo at tulong ang fisheries sector, kasama na ang BFAR at ang buong Department of Agriculture.