Defend Benham Rise!

By Joe America

Most Filipinos do not know of Benham Rise. It is time to end this little shard of ignorance. The well-being of every Filipino born and yet to be born depends on it. Benham Rise is one of those grand historical moments, a flash point like the Alamo or the fictional “Bridge on the River Kwai“, where a nation’s well-being is destined to be defended at all costs, for it is that important.

President Duterte’s stand is predictably conflicted, which is not good. He has instructed the Navy to build something out there. (“Wary of China, Duterte tells navy to build ‘structures’ east of Philippines“; Reuters). He has also given China a green light to survey. (“China appreciates Duterte’s friendly stance on Benham research vessels“; GMA News).

What is Benham Rise?

Benham Rise is a huge underwater plateau, an extension of the continental shelf upon which the Philippines rests. The area is just about the same size as Luzon. It is an amazing and largely untapped region of promise.

Because the plateau is covered by water, rights of free passage are granted to other nations in the surrounding Philippine Sea. Global laws permit that. But economic rights belong to the Philippines.

Under President Arroyo, the Philippines took the step of applying to the United Nations for official certification that Benham Rise is a part of the continental shelf upon which the Philippines rests. This was a huge undertaking, a huge investment in the future of the nation. Contributing to the Philippine presentation were institutions in Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, and Japan.

The 2009 filing is presented in detail in the linked “Executive Summary” document. Even the summary is technical, detailing specific geographic points and the legal basis for the underwater features belonging to the Philippines.

On April 12, 2012, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the application, making only minor adjustments to the Philippine line-drawing. Click on the link and you will get to the official document, with all its technical details and pretty maps.

What do the lines mean?

This larger map gives a good picture of the lay of the lines.

The red line is the Baseline that shows the edge of the Philippine land territory. The green line is the all important 200 nautical mile wide area that represents the Philippine “Exclusive Economic Zone”, or EEZ. The yellow line represents the additional seabed added to the Philippine sphere of economic control by the UN certification. It is called the “New Outer Limit Line”.

The legal documents spend most of their time detailing this extension, for example, defining exactly where the “Molave Spur” extends to. The red dots are survey guideposts from which the yellow line is drawn.

Because there are no islands or rock formations in this area of the Philippine Sea, neither China nor any other country has a basis for historical claim to the Benham Rise Plateau. Without question, the resources and monetary values represented by this underwater land mass belong to the Philippines. That is what the UN finding certified. Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice explains the situation clearly:


The Philippines does not own the land (China can argue that point accurately), but she holds exclusive mineral and economic rights to the entire region.

Therein lies the huge possible conflict that, for the Philippines, is worth defending at all costs.

Why is Benham Rise so important?

What’s there? Known reserves of methane in solid state. Important minerals. Possibly huge reserves of oil. (“10 Things to know about Benham Rise“;

Much of the Philippine electrical energy production is now fueled by the giant Malampaya natural gas field near Palawan. That resource is drying up, with its official end-of life now estimated to be in 2024. Some gas may still be available until about 2030, but the huge demands of a growing nation will no longer be satisfied by Malampaya. (“Malampaya gas field can fuel plants after 2030“; Rappler)

The Philippines must find new sources of fuel for energy to support its population and economic growth. China’s acquisition of rocks and islands in the West Philippine Sea cut the Philippines off from drilling for oil and gas there. Exploration was halted. Leasing of drilling sites was halted.

China took those opportunities from the Philippines.

It was highly disturbing to many, if not the President, that China had ships out surveying Benham Rise.  (“Chinese survey ship spotted in Benham Rise, says defense chief“; ABS-CBN News).

China’s presence there ought to strike fear or claustrophobia or whatever emotions accompany the knowledge that acquisitive China has the power . . . but not the right . . . to take Benham Rise, and all its riches, from the Philippines.

The issue couldn’t be more stark.

If the Philippines wishes to stand as a sovereign, independent, prosperous nation, her rights to Benham Rise must be defended. The nation must hold onto the promise of Benham Rise or remain impoverished and weak and little more than a dilapidated, shanty nation begging for alms from China.

Benham Rise represents sovereign self-determination . . . and the path to modernism and prosperity for the Philippines. Nothing less.


185 Responses to “Defend Benham Rise!”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    It is good that the DND chief is firm on his opinions and decisions.

  2. andrewlim8 says:

    Ignorance was on proud display when this was first brought up.

    “Human rights?”

    “No sir, Benham Rise.”

    In an earlier essay, we had sounded the alarm:

    Duterte has no more leverage with the Chinese. All the cards are in their hands. The only thing that matters to the Chinese is that Duterte remains in power, because he serves their purpose.

    The pledges of support, the aid packages, the loans, the projects can all be scaled back or withdrawn without prior notice, depending on how we serve their interests.

    And Duterte can’t do a thing, having foregone all the leverage he had – the alliances and the court rulings.

  3. I remembered reading this

    The chinese needs to stop this oil fetish and use their considerable number of engineers and PHDs to create awesome batteries that will disrupt the need for oil.

  4. Dear me, more of the same – selling the soul to the devil and for what? and why?

    When I listen to him, inadvertently on radio, because it is not my radio and therefore I cannot shut it off, I feel like untangling the radio from the car and heaving it out of the window.

    When he talks, he has no sense at all. He is like a stand-up comedian whose only interest is to make people laugh at his nonsensical jokes and run-on sentences on what he did when he was mayor. But this is the Philippines, by gum!

  5. NHerrera says:

    Thank you for the blog. It clears my previous ignorance and effectively answered queries I had in a previous blog. The very recent (2017-03-13) statement of Senior Associate Justice Carpio on Benham Rise, which you included, further clarifies things for me.

    • NHerrera says:

      It seems to me that there is now a fuzz and rightly so on the research agreement Duterte gave the Chinese. Based on Justice Carpio’s statement,

      – If it is fisheries research for example then that is all within the parameters of international rights;

      – But if the research is all encompassing, and thus may include seismic surveys then it is clearly excluded as an international right.

      In this regard, I notice that the machineries of the government is now being employed to massage this matter of “research” that was granted to the Chinese by Duterte.

      It is in this sense that it makes a lot of sense to me to investigate this matter through the more believable Upper House of Congress or Senate not by the rubber-stamp HOR.

      • parengtony says:

        Remember GMA’s ZTE deal? Signed contract hard copies lost almost immediately after signing!

        Will Senators Gordon, Pacquiao, Cayetano, Pimentel, Sotto, Zubiri, Recto, Ejercito, and Lacson conduct a Senate investigation on what Duterte’s Benham Rise deal with China is really all about? Does not the Senate have oversight authority/responsibility over all bilateral and/or multilateral agreement entered into by the President?

        • NHerrera says:

          I believe so as I do about the Lower House. So far I read about plans for a hearing on the matter of Benham Rise. I have a name — Cong. Raffy Biazon — but not from the Senate on the proposal for a hearing. In any case not until May at the earliest, after the Lenten Recess.

    • Thanks. I learned as well. It is an impressive ‘win’ for the Philippines, like the arbitration case, and it seems disgraceful to me that the president of the nation does not cherish these victories. There are so few of them it seems to me.

      • parengtony says:

        No disrespect intended but characterizing this administration’s China agenda as anything less than a sell out is simply wrong, unpatriotic, and very misleading.And, btw, any secret agreement (aka “sweetheart deal”) between the Philippine President and China’s leadership is treasonous.

        China,like Russia, and unlike the USA, has the ability to buy the cooperation of foreign politicians. Without such cooperation, the cost of advancing economic,military, and geopolitical interest would multiply many times.over.

        Where do all of these lead to? Quo Vadis Pilipinas?

        • Two value systems are competing. As we see leaders like House Speaker Alvarez looking at someone principled like VP Robredo as a threat to be punished because she has a different value system, we can see the two systems clearly. Some, like Angara and Poe, have a foot in each camp, which actually puts them in the unprincipled camp. As long as most leaders are pliable, and willing to go with the power and/or money, then your principled stand is intellectually admirable, but futile. I’m in the same boat. China is “with” the unprincipled group. I think you might want to lean on Senator Poe to get her out of the pro-China camp.

  6. Joe , are there talks at all with say Vietnam, Malaysia, also Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia, to get cruise lines to ply the South China sea , as cruise lines do in say the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, criss-crossing back and forth? That would be a great way to populate the waters with foreign tourists, whilst enforcing freedom of navigation rights for everyone.

    I remember reading that the Philippines once attempted to open its ports and shores to these cruises, but was hampered by local politicians demanding entry into the ships, for tours and i’m sure for free meals.

    This year though both Celebrity and MSC (I believe Princess cruise too) are adding the Philippines back to its route after i believe some years of absence (due to local politicians wanting free-bies), did DU30 or his Tourism guy have anything to do with this?

    Whether or not, they had a hand in this, it’s a good start, not only for tourist money but adding more traffic in the South China sea.

    As for the Benham Rise,

    are folks floating other ideas aside from fossil fuels? Like …

    Tourism too, get people to ply the waters there, deep sea fishing, more cruises, populate the area, even partner with say NASA and the US Navy to do undersea research… sky’s the limit.

    • I wouldn’t celebrate the potential for lots of fossil fuels in Benham Rise (but that’s just me), find other opportunities and uses , but populate it first (the Philippines more than any other country, should know how all this squatting process works),

      • I’m sure the US would be colored blue or green to yellow after Obama’s disastrous fracking policy (now continued by Trump), since the map above is 2007-2009, but most importantly recognize that the 1st world can afford not to drill/extract because they simply siphon from other lands (legally or illegally)

        • If we set the ecological, impractical speculations (tourism in open waters), and political issues aside to get more focused on the issue raised in the article, it is clear that the US has scientific knowledge and capabilities to do a reading of ‘what’s there’ on the plateau. Japan and Korea have expressed interest in research there. Those would help the PH immensely. It seems foolish to me to trust China for assistance given that China cut the PH out of the Spratley oil fields.

          • Joe,

            The impractical speculations on tourism (and ecology) and the work of deep seas science need not be separate.

            It’s not as impractical as say Deep Space tourism, i’m sure, yet

            located in the Jornada del Muerto Desert outside Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (yes that’s a name of the city), Spaceport America opened in 2011 as the hub for space tourism…

            why not the Philippines as hub of deep sea tourism?

            (granted Spaceport America established by both Virgin Galactic & SpaceX for their tourist market, is right now a ghost town, but my point is the speculation apparently was worth some money, though it’s on ice right now,

            compare that to Benham Rise all the way to the Marianas trench, i’m sure some bright Filipino can make a case for deep sea tourism and relate that to deep space tourism, Joe)

            Unlike Deep Space tourism without any sort of infrastructure, Deep Seas tourism can piggy back on Cruise industry now sprouting over there, by encouraging South China sea cruise routes, back & forth, to bare witness to what’s going on in the South China sea,

            it would be pretty easy to sell to cruise lines, the idea of offering under sea, Deep Sea voyages in small submarines facilitated by the likes of Elon Musk and sir Richard Branson, if nothing else at least have them construct for the Philippines an awesome port facility that’s West facing away from Asia 😉

            Have any of you guys been to Polillo Island, just Google mapping the area near Benham Rise, and that seems the best spot to set-up shop. it’s part of Quezon province , so karl make some calls, pull some strings, and get your peeps from Quezon province to get a hold of Sir Richard and Elon Musk, about a Deep Sea port.

            • Yes, I would never expect you to stop defending one of your inventive proposals, no matter how lunatic or off topic.

              • That’s all well and good if he could sell a tour into open water over one to Palawan. Then we would know that sending ships into a void has economic truth.

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                🙂 🙂 🙂

              • I just realized Deep Space in Deep Space tourism might be misconstrued ,

                so here’s the definition: Deep space is defined as either a synonym for outer space or space beyond the limits of the solar system or space well outside the earth’s atmosphere —— it’s the latter we’re talking about, just past the atmosphere, but

                the use of Deep Seas research is also applicable for Deep Space (within or beyond our solar system), ie. Neptune or watery moons/earths


              • You and Bert should get together to iron out the economic potential of Benham Rise.

              • “That’s all well and good if he could sell a tour into open water over one to Palawan. “

                That’s my point, Joe…

                if you look at that map (above) of Celebrity cruise line’s trip to the Philippines for this year, it by-passes Palawan straight to Boracay (since it has tourist infrastructure, i’m sure) and Manila (logistically Manila would be the only place to replenish a big cruise line),

                But tourists love pristine experiences, so Palawan should eventually be included to the route, aside from tourism, the idea is to criss-cross the hell out of the South China sea;

                Joe, open water is no problem, it’s not like it’s the 1920s , there’s Wi-fi, casinos, all kinds of entertainment while on board.

                We kill two birds with one stone here (the stone being the cruise industry), granted you have to establish the marketability of the Philippines as cruising destination (ie., stop local politicians from demanding to board to get free-bies, you have to be pretty ballsy to do this in the first place by the way),

                that all starts with South China sea,

                then start selling Philippine sea opportunities.

                I’m simply saying that aside from fossil fuels, you have other means of populating Benham Rise, namely tourism and exploration (ie. Deep Space tourism). Why is fossil fuel & mining always the de fault opportunity?

                Look at how much money the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Baltic and also the Caribbean seas are making from the cruise industry.

                chemp, you’re the businessman here, what say you?

              • Economics over idealism.

              • You remind me a lot of the online people who make up truths out of the words that come from their head, as if there really is profit to be made by building ships that people sail on in order to play table tennis above Benham Rise. You are diverting the issue, which they also do, that issue being Phillipine sovereign rights over resources, not table tennis.

              • Tony I aka little prince says:

                Maybe economics as tool to achieve idealism sir joe? I remember a news article about a possible development proposal to build a Disney like resort in Palawan but environmentalists quickly protesting against it….

              • Idealism is great. It is often called vision and can be found most corporate annual reports. Getting the ideas into pragmatic, practical projects is hard work though. Citing visions is easy. I just don’t want this discussion wandering off into the hinterlands, thus losing the key point. Sovereignty.

              • I agree with Tony, between a Disneyland attraction which is permanent, a cruise port (and shore excursions) would leave less a footprint environmentally speaking than a big permanent structure, which invariably leads to more hotels, etc.

                Hell, keep those cruise ships anchored off shore even, and get local outriggers to ferry passengers to shore.

                (Joe, why am I now under moderation, this is a discussion of Benham Rise resources no? as such not completely off-topic, there are more off-topic links shared by others by the way, just pointing that out.)

              • Others respect my editorial guidance when I suggest it. Your posts have come to irritate me, as you always (somewhat) condescendingly cast judgments as to how Filipinos can do it better, dominate the thread and pull it off the mark, and use common trolling techniques to win arguments rather than listen or teach. It is probably a personal thing now, as I think you pull the blog off course, and I’m trying to achieve something meaningful in tough political waters.

              • chemrock says:

                Hope Joe allow me to squeeze one OT comment here.

                1. First and foremost, I think BR is not deep sea, at least the area covering the plateau.
                2. Cruise operators are not in the business of investing in the infra required to get your idea going. They bring folks to where is.
                3. Cruise tourists from the West are majority retirees and older folks who want a leisurely timeout. Don’t expect many grandpas or grandmas too keen on scuba diving, even if they still have the strength to carry them cylinders.
                4. Asia cruise industry don’t make much money on the tourist part. Their grub is from casino operations on board in international waters.
                5. Good luck to the cruise marketing manager trying to sell prospective customers that all is well between Philippines and China and there are no unfriendly naval activities there. They need to photoshop their brochures and conceal those Chinese missles.
                6. To get your idea to fruition, your task number 1 is to get Senator Pacquiao to pronounce that God allows deep sea tourism, then get Congress to pass some laws. In Philippines, nobody moves without some laws. How long do you think this will take? Sotto’s proposal on the registration of SIM cards is still sitting somewhere. There is no back-of-envelope deals in Philippines (things never move that fast here) only what’s-in-the-envelope deals.

                Deep sea adventure perhaps is a good sport, but I don’t think you can have the numbers to make it economically viable. BR is in typhoon zone, that makes it even more impossible. The Aussies have one in the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been there once but unfortunately, the corals are almost gone by now.

                Cruise industry (not the deep sea) is still a viable one for Phils local tourists as well as SE Asian tourists. But unfortunately, security is a very big issue for Asean tourists. I shudder to think of Abu Sayaf boarding one of these cruise ships. And now EJK has probably killed any idea of any Asean cruise investors.

                Most people thinking of attracting cruise business look only at the tourism aspect. There is another big part of being on a cruise business route. Cruise vessels time their trips for maintenance, servicing and repair works. And that’s big business. Much of this is done in Singapore, and I think in Batam, the Indonesian island south of Singapore.


              • chemp,

                Good stuff, I always appreciate your business side break-down of things,

                I totally agree with you re Philippine Sea side, no infrastructures (but i’m thinking more of these cruise ships as floating cities, so whether or not there are infrastructures in place, 2-3 days just exploring should be do-able… whether it’s worth exploring is another question though),

                i’ve never been on these cruise ships by the way, i’ve been aboard US Navy ships though , for long periods of time, and i just don’t see the fun in it—– it’s a big disaster waiting to happen if you ask me… cruise ships.

                But i think you’re seeing the ridership very narrowly here (for both the South China sea & Philippine sea potential),

                if the Caribbean and European cruise industry give us any indication, is that more young folks are doing this (whether they ‘ll go to Asia that remains to be seen of course), but i”m thinking it’s not just casinos for old folks, chemp… think younger.

                So definitely, the young and middle class market can be targeted,

                as for piracy, i’ve had buddies work security for cruise lines (it’s on the down low), but they board say in Port Said, be there for the leg of the trip all the way to say Oman, then back again. East Indies especially thru the seas around Sulawesi too, so my point is that there is sufficient

                security on board , hence its rare to see piracy boardings on cruise ships, but more importantly, I think if you’re a pirate, you’d prefer smaller ratio to victimize, you don’t wanna bite more than you can chew,

                a cruise ship would just be a logistical nightmare, hence they prefer beach cottage abductions and maybe small craft/yacht operations.

    • karlgarcia says:

      They(Frabelle Tuna) are the only one (so far) who’s fishing there(Benham Rise).

    • Chris Albert says:

      A noble idea but it has some flaws. Firstly cruiseships .. They need calm waters and plenty deep water ports to dock. They also need nice places to stop at in close proximity of each other as the average cruise lasts max 2 or 3 weeks.
      Secondly and this applies to aqua culture too…. THe area is known for verry violent seas and pretty huge waves. VOR lost/damaged 5 boats a few years back as they crossed the strait between Taiwan and Phil. I remember that the waves scared even me and coming from the northern atlantic we are used to huge wave action. So fish pens or stationary structures will most likely not survive a storm season
      The south china / west phil sea might be more suitable but it lacks basic infrastructure to deal with a few thousand tourist per boat each.

      A UN eco park might be the best option I think but so far PRR is just handing it all away for his idiotic plans

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. What I find intriguing about this Benham Rise affair is the extent of:

    o Communication
    o Miscommunication
    o Non-communication

    between and among the parties.

    2. There is obviously ongoing communication between the Secretary of Defense and a friendly country with the capability of monitoring ship movements in the area.

    3. There is a question whether this information:

    3.1. Is being shared directly with the President by the friendly country.
    3.2. Is being transmitted to the President by the Secretary of Defense.

    4. Options 3.1 and 3.2 may well have been done, but the info and its significance may not have registered with the geriatric President.

    4.1. What are the implications of 3.1 and 3.2?

    4.1.1. If 3.1 was not done, it means that the friendly country is not kindly disposed to, or even is distrustful of, the President.

    4.1.2. If 3.2 was not done, it means that the Secretary of Defence is keeping some cards under his sleeve. This is a tricky situation to say the least.

    5. On the other side of the matter, there is the question of whether indeed the President gave permission for China to scout Benham Rise.

    5.1. If the President did not, then he is being duplicitous. His reason for belated saying so would be most likely to preserve the promise of economic “gains” from China.

    5.2. If the President did, then he is also being duplicitous by not sharing this permission with the Secretary of Defense and the Cabinet.

    5.2.1. More to the point and either way, the President is conducting foreign policy – and toying with sovereign rights — in a totally secretive manner and in a totally idiosyncratic style.

    6. The President is treating the country as his private fiefdom. He fancies himself as a seigneur with full rights over persons and property.

    6.1. From recently released media, it seems he would practice droit de seigneur… if he still could.

    7. Governmental energy, instead of being directed properly to elevating the nation, is being frittered away. There is no focus and so many distractions. Increasingly, the energy is being dissipated by the defensive postures the administration is being forced to take because of mis- and mal-administration.

    • Yes. I am encouraged by the sense shown at DFA, post Yasay, and Defense. There is a balancing pragmatism. I don’t know about the economy; signs are ominous. I fear the President is unidiminsional, drugs and federalism. Or bidimensional, haha.

    • NHerrera says:

      Exhaustively stated comment on communication, fair and covers the important matter of implication. Vintage edgar.

      I am glad this came about before it has gotten worse.

      Earlier in the other blog, I posted this sequence of events:

      1. Lorenzana raises concern on the Chinese vessels in the Benham Rise area;
      2. China says “innocent passage;”
      3. Lorenzana belies this innocent passage excuse;
      4. Duterte states I allowed China to do survey/ research in the area (the info unknown to poor Lorenzana, DND Chief);
      5. China thanks Duterte for the latter’s statement.

      Your item 5 relates to the above. Assuming the sequence I enumerated is true. It may not be the corpus delecti but my enumeration of events seems to point to your 5.1 which does not put Duterte in any better light.

      • NHerrera says:

        This comes inspired by chempo’s dropped-towel story to illustrate the matter of after-the-fact permission.

        Pedro — having broken with the straight, honest and lovely Maria for the sexy Juana — being told that Juana was in an unflattering scene with her ex, says that he has given Juana permission to see her ex.

        (Maria ~ US; Juana ~ China)

    • chemrock says:

      Mr Smith was busy on the phone and Mrs Smith had just stepped out of the bath tub when the door bell rang. “Honey would you please attend to the door, I’m tied up here” Mr Smith told his wife. Mrs Smith, wrapped in towel, grudgingly obliged. She opened the door to find their neighbour Joe who smiled at. her. Joe then said “Tell you what Mrs Smith, I’ll give you $500 if you’ll drop the towel”. She hesitated for a second and then thought, hack what the hell, and dropped her towel. Joe gazed for a while, handed here $500 and walked away. Mrs Smith closed the door and her husband asked “Who was that?”. “Oh it’s just Joe” she said. To which, Mr Smith asked “Did he say anything about the $500 he borrowed from me?”

      Management 101 — You will avoid unnecessary exposures if info is shared with your operations team.

    • cwl says:

      Extending further, you 3.1 and 3.2, will make your postulate rather more intriguing and complicated bordering on becoming an open ended speculation.

      ( If the DND secretary gets his info from a friendly country but the info is not shared with the President, it is possible that the friendly country has advised ( ordered) the secretary to withhold the fact that he already knew the Benham Rise affair— too scary if I were Duterte)

      ( if indeed the DND sec was left in the dark, it is assumed that the “friendly country” considering its capability to monitor activities in high seas knew the Benham Rise affair and also aware that the President gave permission to China— too scary for Duterte- setting him up against the military ) …

      You can extend further speculations but they will always end to Duterte placing himself in not so enviable situation.

      • edgar lores says:

        Your guess is as good as mine. And I think you are right: either option leaves the President at a disadvantage.

        My best guess is a combination of 2, 3.2, and 4.1.1.

        And 5.1.

  8. Bert says:

    There is nothing to it. This Benham Rise brouhaha is a ruse, a diversionary tactic by Pres. Duterte and China to divert attention from more critical matters affecting the nations.

    China is no fool. They can’t even do what they want to do in the Scarborough Shoal area which is within their nine dash line and shallower, much less in the Benham Rise. an ocean too deep for exploration, too prone to typhoons and too far away.

    Please, let’s not fall for this gimmickry. There is no sense to it in my opinion.

    • Elaborate ruse, stealth survey for weeks by Chinese ships. Huge potential according to preliminary probes. Other nations are planning to mine the moon and you want the PH to walk away from even researching the place, under PH sovereign rights? I guess we hugely disagree.

    • a distant observer says:

      There is something to everything. Everything is connected and everything needs to be considered to make the right decisions (in this case strategic and policy ones). I’m pretty sure you as a clairvoyant know very well about the importance to consider connections, the visible as well as the invisible ones.
      “China is no fool. They can’t even do what they want to do in the Scarborough Shoal area.” What makes you say that? What is it that China wants to do in the area that it is prohibited to do? Prohibited by whom? China moves slowly, it has certainly a different time horizon than western strategists. But just because it moves slowly doesn’t mean it is not on its way to its goal. China’s pace in the region definitively increased since the installment of their new lackey in the Malacanang last year.
      Maybe you’re right, and Benham’s Rise is part of a diversionary tactic at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that Benham’s Rise is not important at all. Joe is right to bring this issue to the table.

      • Bert says:

        ““China is no fool. They can’t even do what they want to do in the Scarborough Shoal area.” What makes you say that? What is it that China wants to do in the area that it is prohibited to do?”—distant observer

        I’m not a clairvoyant but I have a most reliable crystal ball and I saw China itching to do reclamation work in the Scarborough Shoal. It’s a long time plan but still they can’t do it,

        Now you know.

        I’m not exactly sure why China has not done it yet but I also saw in my crystal ball an image of Uncle Sam holding a cruise missile pointed at the head of China’s president. Sometimes my crystal ball played tricks on me so I just scratch my head.

        You said China moves slowly but on its way to its goal. Well, wake me up when it starts the works in the Scarborugh and the Benham Rise. I hope it happen within my life time. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz, snore.

        • chemrock says:

          1 day ago. China wants to build ‘environmental monitoring stations on Scaborough, Carpio warns it’s ‘radar stations’.

          • Bert says:

            Wow, chemp, that woke me up a bit. Looks to me distant observer is correct after all. If that’s the case then I changed my mind about China. I think China is a fool after all.

            But, wait, wait, I am seeing new activities in my crystal ball. Hmmmn, this is bad news, and our president must be warned. He is in great danger of losing his power.

        • a distant observer says:

          I just saw your reply to my comment Bert. I’m sorry if I mistakenly called you a clairvoyant. Your repeated reference to a “most reliable crystal ball” made me say that. After all, I am a novice in the business of prediction, and my tools consist rather of computers and statistical software. I can see that we have pretty different perspectives, this is the reason why I always appreciate yours.

    • Lil says:

      If China is a fool, why do you think they manage to build structures from right under other claimant’s noses? If they were stupid, none of their ships would have managed to bring in so much as a driftwood to the disputed isles.
      The Philippines has been played so many times before and yet people persist in this kind of thinking.
      Probably because some people see nothing wrong with Chinese playing legalese with the UN’s definition of a territory. Or they don’t find it suspicious Chinese ships have been” surveying” BR for months. Or that they claimed to respect Philippine rights to BR even after claiming PH can’t claim BR?
      Maybe we should ask their barking pet what really transpired in China.

  9. gerverg1885 says:

    The cruise ship would not have stayed there for three months if they did not see any potential, mostly economic.

  10. arlene says:

    I’m thinking of the “what if” Joeam. Thanks for this post, I learned some more.

  11. chemrock says:

    In retrospect, the Team Carpio and Pnoy admin did a good job by having great foresight to include the claims on Benham Rise when presenting the West Philippines islands case at the UN courts.

    Thank you Pnoy.

    China, in not participating in the arbitration hearing and not objecting to Philippines’ claims. is now estopped from denying Philippines sovereignty over BR.

    Interesting to see how the president can wriggle out this situation he created by giving seismic surveying rights to the Chinese.

  12. sonny says:

    This turnaround of attention to BR (from leeward to windward) suggests that our Philippine marine academe and DND create beelines to Scripps (US West Coast) and Wood’s Hole (US East Coast), and the US Naval War College (more), post haste; also populate like crazy our maritime schools & operations. IMO. Late reaction but must do. 🙂

    • Totally agree, sonny!

      Instead of just churning out seamen for foreign ships, get more Filipinos to study and become the world’s experts in Oceanography, involving these sciences (though not all), astronomy, biology, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hydrology, meteorology and physics…

      Looks like the Ocean just picked the Philippines to be its saviour!

      • There is no shortage of college educated scientists in PH but there are no jobs available.

        Love Moana, btw.

        • Did you know, it was the Rock really singing You’re Welcome… yup awesome movie!

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            Yup. Knew that. We lived in Hawaii for a while and I have a soft spot about anything from the island.

            • I’m a big fan of how the Polynesians went all the day to Chile (brought their chickens, archeologists also found South American yams introduced to SE Asia by Polynesians), and also maybe Southern California, interacting with the Chumash natives over here,

        • “There is no shortage of college educated scientists in PH but there are no jobs available.”


          I finally got to open that link, and there’s no mention of college educated scientists in PH, just college graduates to work ratio, if anything the article was probably pointing out one of the conversations

          i had with NH awhile back re engineers vs. scientists, remember that NH? ( precipitated by a comment by one Steve, about his son going to school for Physics, while the more popular majors were hotel management, etc. he tragically noticed), ie. the Philippines produces more technicians, engineers, routine /mundane-type careers (ie. seamen, nursing, etc.) than actual scientists.

          Benham Rise is an opportunity, look past Benham Rise and go as far as Marianas Trench. Maybe as part of this opportunity, Philippine education re that article of yours, can adjust to meet the needs of this Benham Rise… ie., Oceanography instead of simply churning out seamen.

          • sonny says:

            A cursory look at the Philippine geographic inventory as an archipelago would point to very specialized needs for our 7,500 island-nation, viz detailed tectonic/seismic, hydrologic and meteorologic, maritime profiling, very much analogical to the activities of the NEDA. Much attention is warranted in these areas, all related to our national physical plant and hardware. I suspect these themes are not lost to our designated agencies.

            I’ve always wondered why Teddy Roosevelt is one of the faces at Mt Rushmore. Then I found out his physical vision of America matched that of John Muir and Alfred Mahan. And the three in fact crossed paths and one can only guess the breadth and depth of their conversations about America at the turn of the 20th century. The only Filipino visionary I can think of who could be in their company was the late Pres Manuel Quezon.

            I think it providential that Joe’s blog on Benham Rise allows readers to exercise similar visions and see the extent the national grasp and reach can take. I am grateful that the American ascendancy and vision spun out also great possibilities for Filipinos if they should so desire them for the Philippines. The seeds have been sown during Spanish & American colonial times. Filipinos colonizing Filipinos is not necessarily bad.

            I certainly appreciate that the ruminations of LC, Joe and well-informed readers have this forum for productive exchange.

            • sonny says:

              Incidentally, according to some, Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t have minded the governorship of the Philippines.

              • Vision is important, sonny… some may say it’s too small (like Joe), or too big (like Bert), even ridicule it … but like i always say it’s better than not having one at all. Teddy Roosevelt was that, made fun off, misunderstood, though his being on Mt. Rushmore is probably due to timeline or convenience not so much history—- i think in the end though he did prove himself worthy in such company.

                Ironically, the most peaceful spot in DC is his island (have you been, that’s my favorite spot in DC)… sonny, I would add, as Teddy’s close friends, instrumental in his grander vision,

      • chemrock says:

        NOAH got scrapped. What are your chances of another science driven initiative.

        • karlgarcia says:

          They just dumped the project to the over stretched PAGASA, though still part of DOST, their expertise is on metreolgy only.NOAH deals with disaster mapping and more
          Ok they should also delegate to to Philvolcs.

          I am a fan of of streamlining, for most cases, but this project is still in its infancy, a project has to prove its viability first then if visble turn it over to the respective agency, not just scrap it in favor of another pet project or budget realignment.

          What is there increase in budget for. Increase in infrastructure, where if you do it all almost simultaneously will cause heavy traffic for the rest of PDuterte’s term, making it impossible to implement.

          Plus one project is already having Right of way problems, what if it happens to all projects, then everything will stall again and be passed to the next administration.

          And they call Abaya stupid and plodding and Noynoy is only Noynoying.

  13. Oldmaninla says:

    This Benham Rise news is garbage news, the social media just blow it up. Let’s be concern of other productive issues, Filipino should be friendly to all, this is the formula for progress.
    Righteous people makes righteous nation, righteous nation makes progress while divided nation keeps fighting to destruction. Colonial time is past. It history!

    Philippines is a beautiful country. Visaya islands, Cebu, Negros, to Palawan have unequal beauty.
    Friendly Philippine Tourism and Retirement will bring progress to our Filipino nation…….

    Righteousness exalts a nation…………

    • China should be respectful of all and not do stealth surveys in another nation’s territory.

      • Oldmaninla says:

        Hehehe…..This blog is a collaboration by people interested in the well-being of the Philippines. It is a place to think and discuss, to teach and learn.? Should have respected its own theme.
        Made deletes of previous post for the well being of the Philippines is not honorable!

        Ang naniniwala sa sabisabi walang baet sa sarili.

        • Oldmaninla says:

          Thank you for reposting! Salamat!

        • karlgarcia says:

          “Ang naniniwala sa sabisabi walang baet sa sarili.”

          Those who believe in lose talk is not being kind to him self (lose translation)

          And you want us to believe you just because you are an oldman?

    • Oldmaninla says:

      Joe, very interesting because history proves China had shown respect to all nations, even to all southeast Asian nations, particularly the Philippines since the dawn of time, China just made friends and trade for centuries, unlike colonial time, Spain, America and Japan savagely conquered, destroyed the nation and killed Filipinos in thousands. As hurting as it was, this was history.

      You mentioned stealth surveys of Benham Rise, it is true or speculation in fear, or lies?

      I think, Respect is a very strong moral virtue in Asia and Lying is folly.

      • Good to have China represented here.

      • chemrock says:

        There is a world of difference between the mandarin emperors of yore and the communist proletariat.

        • Oldmaninla says:

          Hehe, and the Filipino Asian…talagang Filipino for peace and progress.

        • sonny says:

          Chempo, I for one would like some more elaboration on this “… difference between mandarin emperors of yore and the communist proletariat” I ask because I confess ignorance of Chinese history specially the transition from dynastic China to communist China and also from your perspective of that part of Sino-history. It is a favor I ask even as I run to do my reading also. Thanks.

          • chemrock says:

            Not wanting to digress too much from the blog, so just a short insertion here.

            Origin of the term ‘mandarin’ is uncertain. The West in the old days associates this with the scholar-official, the educated elites. The ruling class comprise of the educated elites. China was the first country to implement an Imperial exam to select officials. (Note there was in place a separate exam for the military wing of governance). In those days, education was basically in poetry, literature, and Confucianism. The intellectual mindset was in arts, humanistics, civility, morality. The Chinese was a very cultured civilisation in the old days, relative to all the other countries at the time. Well advanced in arts, science, governance. That was why they saw themselves as the middle kingdom, the centre of the world. The historic sea ventures of Admiral Chengho was without hegemonistic intentions – more to showcase the Chinese superior civilisation to the world and promote trade. The mandarins had finesse and law-based dealings. Then came Mao and the peasant revolution. Fortunately, Mao was not as bloodthirsty as the Bolsheviks, but they were uncouth and thuggy in nature. That’s the communist mindset we have today.

            • NHerrera says:

              I like that brief on a facet of China’s civilization, chempo — a Camelot-like or Renaissance-like period of China ending with the present mindset.

              I wonder what a parallel brief history of the Philippines may be, ending with today’s situation. Sadly, PH may not be described as having had a Camelot — near Camelot perhaps? Of course, we now have the current mindset to end any thoughts of such a romantic period.

            • To clarify, such diversions of topic that arise during the discussion are wholly acceptible. What I dislike is when diversions are injected as main discussion points and overwhelm the issues raised in the blog. I tend to ask, what’s the point of writing if people don’t even address the issues pertinent to the well-being of the Philippines?

              • NHerrera says:

                Good reminder there. A branch becoming bigger than the tree trunk is indeed ridiculous — especially if it does not address the whole point of the tree (trunk): the well-being of the PH. I will sketch that picture beside my laptop.

              • SUPERB characterization.

          • sonny says:

            Thank you, all for indulging this digression. This bit from chempo covers a lot of ground for information and attitudes about our Chinoy compatriots whose generations have chosen the Philippines as their own country. Thanks also, Joe.

    • Oldmaninla says:

      Joe, the writer is native born Filipino Asian, I think in your blog, someone like him should represent a true Filipino Asian who can voice the heartbeat of Filipino-Asian for peace and progress. The colonial time is past since 1946.

      The new 21th century is high tech internet with open history time…..
      The Philippine needs peace and progress.

      Sabi ni Juan, Ang naniniwala sa sabisabi walang baet sa sarili.

      • The Philippines indeed needs peace and progress, fair dealing and respect given and granted. Also resources that are hers under international law. Certainly, you don’t expect the Philippines to just roll over and enjoy being abused, do you?

      • madlanglupa says:

        “true Filipino Asian”

        What? We’re really a nation of immigrants, this country colonized by our Malayo-Indo ancestors many centuries ago.

        And I get wary of people talking about “Asian Pride”, which in excess makes a mockery of identity.

      • NHerrera says:

        OM, you say a Filipino-Asian like you — who does not believe anymore in colonial mentality and who is for peace and progress — (a sentiment I share and I am confident by many others here; there may be other sentiments you have, however, which we may not share) should be represented in TSH blog.

        You are here representing that group of Filipino-Asian and posting your comments and have not been banned by Joe, seeing that you have also posted in previous blogs. So what’s the beef (sorry, that may sound like colonial mentality — I probably should say “ano ang baka” or “ano ang pating”)? If the implied “beef” is that the others here are not singing hosannas to your post then that is an altogether different matter.

        (Sorry, OM/Joe, if that sounded unkind. I feel somewhat uncomfortable with the implication that I may not be a true Filipino-Asian. It is possible, it is something I ate and not reading things right. Joe, please delete if uncalled for.)

        • I think his comment was aimed at we colonists, so, as my son is inclined to say, “No prob, Bob.” 🙂 Good of you to defend the blog. We do our best, and even the Marcos/Duterte trolls let us carry on our respectful dialogue.

          • NHerrera says:

            OM, Joe: I regret reading what is not there. (It was what I ate then. That or getting past my English grammar teacher and not minding sentence structures. 🙂 )

        • Oldmaninla says:

          When I say I’m Filipino-Asian, I hope I said the truth with my real identity, native born in the Philippine, with Spanish-Asian blood.
          Filipino is a derivative of the name Spanish King, King Filipe of Spain. An occupied people.
          My heartbeat is for peace and progress of the Philippine.

          • karlgarcia says:

            I understand that is how you identify yourself in California, but here you can just say Fil-Am.

          • I am confident in saying none of us is for war and backwardness. Some of us just may have different ideas than you.

            • Oldmaninla says:

              Joe, your statement is the true society of honor! ……..let us watch for loose talks in your blog that will entice troubles…. peace and progress for the Philippines is honorable.

              Fil-Asian old man in LA

  14. The Benham Rise story need to be fact checked to see if it can be added to the list of allegations in Alejano’s complaint:

    • NHerrera says:

      Juana, I heard Alejano on TV saying he will file an amended complaint which will include Benham Rise. He has time since I understand that the House of Reps can only tackle the Impeachment complaint after the Holy Week recess, sometime in May. I agree he should get his facts straight on the BR item. But there now seems to be a big massaging effort on what exactly was that “research” agreement made by PRD with China.

      Also the reality of the Impeachment success:
      1/3 of HOR’s 297 reps means 99 needed to approve, if it ever goes to the Plenary. And 2/3 of 24 Senators or 16 to pass. Very strong headwinds.

      But for the anti’s, there may be some gains (?) on the move even if it does not go to the Senate. Politics is the magical art of the possible or fools? The dinner meeting of the 15 Senators with PRD does give the idea of some concern by the Admin. As we say, Abangan ang kasunod na kabanata.

  15. Of note, Senator Gatchilian is proposing legislation to properly manage Benham Rise. Also, Senator Trillanes is proposing an investigation into China’s survey activities. Also also, the new DFA acting Sec Manalo says he is unaware that the President authorized China to do anything. By the way, the new Sec has instantaneously righted the foreign affairs ship, it would seem. The one sinking under Yasay.

    • NHerrera says:

      I note, too, the quality difference between a career and veteran diplomat and a showman we had lately.

      There is enough of something in Benham Rise conundrum that gives politicians a vehicle of basking in the limelight. Even Pacquiao can do some punching on the idea. And Cayetano, I will bet you, has a line from the bible to quote at the start of his spiel on a senate hearing on the matter.

      • NHerrera says:

        And out comes, too, a non-Filipino English accent (American?) from Manalo — which probably gives a notion of diplomacy style at DFA. Got to have good China diplomacy style there — whatever that is. A well-oiled line of statements?

        • Get JosephIvo to appraise the accent. Both of his parents and himself were ambassadors to Belgium. Lots of world class diplomatic experience. Thank heaven for small mercies.

          • NHerrera says:

            Thanks for the note. Great resource-blogwriter-contributor in Josephivo to have here in TSH especially at this time.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    There are reasons why the whole eastern luzon seabord particularly the NorthEast has not been developed to its full potential.

    I have talked to you about this pacific coast plan before.

    Grand plan, but out of the radar of the who’s who of the conglomerates.
    I daresay storms are the main reason.

    Chemrock already enumerated why Benham rise is not yet viable, but we are talking of our sovereign rights here.We must assert with resources dedicated to guard it.

    The Foreign Relation poicy of the Duterte administration is in a self correction mode.
    Heck, everything is self correcting nowadays.

    Stop challenging the patience of Joe.
    I am learning from every admonition, I won’t do what he tells you not to do as much as posible.
    Please Lance, your ideas are great,but don’t over sell it.

    • NHerrera says:

      Nice piece of diplomatic note there. It is refreshing here. Afraid to go out in the world out there until I do a lot of bracing. And I am not just talking of the socmed trolls. Talking too about the Honorables. (Why should we continue to use “Yes, Your Honor” when we don’t mean it. Why not just “Yes, Senator;” “Yes, Justice.” ?)

      • karlgarcia says:

        When talking to senators or congressmen, I address them as sen or cong or sir or ma’am.
        I have met a Court of appeals associate justice once and I called him Attorney, but his wife told me to address him as justice.
        I try yo be comfortable until someone tells me not to be too comfortable.
        If ever wewill be a witness or resource person in the hearings in Congress or in court, which could be next to never(in my case) that is the time you start your sentence with “Chairman” in Congress and “your honor” in court.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Sorry for being too literal there NH.
          But yeah, like your post with OM, we can be very respectful here even if we are at the receiving end of smack talk.
          I have blown my top more often than not, but you handle yourself well.
          TSH is a good practice ground for respectful talk. A tactless guy like me has learned a lot in terms of character and attitude.

          • Me, too. And we all make our little learning mistakes. Carry on!

            • karl,


              Point taken. And of course you are right. We’re all feeling our way thru here, much of our intentions cannot be transcribed accurately in words, so i totally understand that miscommunications happen—- in real life, when i pose an idea and someone doesn’t agree, i see it as a challenge to change that other person’s mind (knowing full well this seldom happens), it’s a fun undertaking especially over beers (so it’s the fun, the discourse itself, the twist and turns of it all), but I totally get

              that things do get lost in translation online. Live and learn, i suppose, but in the end we are who we are, some things you just can’t change. But I have never been mean spirited, at least that i hope is coming across clear.

  17. chemrock says:

    In May 2014 the Chinese state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation set an oil platform in waters near the disputed Paracel Islands. 29 Vietnamese vessels (not the govt but private owed vessels) went out to harass the Chinese to prevent the platform from establishing a fixed position. Vietnam govt vociferously protested against the Chinese intrusion, and tried to garner Asean support. Vietnam exploded into an orgy of riots against Chinese business interest in their country. Chinese-owned factories were ravaged.

    Occasionally Chinese fishing vessels intrude into Vietnamese waters. Do a google search “Vietnamese boats chase Chinese vessels” you can see how passionately the Vietnamese protect their sovereignty. It’s not just the govt, but the ordinary people and fishermen.Compare that to a search “Philippines boats chase Chinese vessels” and you see a great difference of national passion for sovereignty between Vietnam and Philippines..

    Here in Philippines, the national nonchalance to the fact the enemy is at the gate is astounding. From a president who patronise Chinese intrusion to the ordinary guys on the street. Where are the guys who alway protest in front of Isreali and US embassy for matters which never concern them? Where are all those macho tough guys? Where is the navy top brass? OK at least the Sec of Defence has the balls to counter the president’s treacherous pronouncement of him giving permission for the survey. Where are the protectors of the country — the congressmen and senators? After a hefty diner it’s difficult for 15 senators to talk with a satisfied tummy. The only senators speaking out are those accused of causing destabilisation. What a country.

  18. andrewlim8 says:

    When the EU calls for De Lima’s release and when the US State Dept calls out the human rights violations, it is foreign intrusion.

    But when China builds structures and sends ships inside our territories, it is “authorized by Duterte.”

    aha ha ha ha

  19. Steve says:

    I wish that more of the talk about Benham Rise would recognize that with the exception of the Benham Bank Seamount (that little bump in the southwest corner on the map), the “Rise” is about 3000 meters below the surface. It’s a “rise” because the surrounding seabed is at 5000 meters, but it’s still really deep water. Extraction of minerals would not be feasible with any existing technology, and both exploration for and extraction of gas or oil would be very expensive and a huge technical challenge. It is a fascinating area with long term economic potential, but anyone expecting economic salvation will be sorely disappointed.

    • NHerrera says:

      That is a good technical point.

      Perhaps China did their bit of surveying, courtesy of Duterte, if data can be found enough for assessment on cost-benefit of the deep see mining or drilling involved. With data in hand China can then say: here is the deal — we recognize your rights in BR but we can come to a deal beneficial to both sides; we will deep sea mine/ drill for xxx, yyy, etc; we will do this, finance this; for the proceeds we cut it this way — you get aa%, we get bb%.

    • caliphman says:

      Let’s not cold hard facts and glaring reality interfere with what is otherwise a spirited discussion and righteous drumbeating of what the Philippines ought to do assuming it’s rights to untold riches beneath could be possibly threatened by the presence of a Chinese survey vessel in otherwise open sea. Good job, Steve…although it sort of cuts the legs off a fascinating government conspiracy to cede the Philippines rights and riches.

      • 🙂 You are in excellent form today, caliphman. I’ve never laughed so hard whilst getting whacked upside the head.

        • sonny says:

          Joe, even if the “cold hard facts” on BR are staring us in the face, some vision must frame the drive to sovereignty that you have suggested and rightly so. I have tried to enflesh your clarion call by allusions to concrete groups (Woods Hole Institute, Scripps Institute) and already existent technological marvels, IMO, like the Shell Perdido platform at the Gulf of Mexico and the platforms at the North Sea. The Gulf might not be buffeted by typhoons like those that ravage the Philippine eastern seaboard and the Perdido platform (2450 meters depth) not quite at the 4000 meter depths of BR. Yet in my 70s, being a product of the Space Race to the moon, that’s still something I do – to dream and big while at it. 🙂

          • NHerrera says:

            Sophisticated (enhanced AI) giant robot machines doing the mining at BR — within a time frame of 5 to 10 years: the robots crawling on the BR floor, testing “finds” then digging for the “treasure” and bringing them up somehow. It is good to dream, sonny; I too am in the 70s.

            You are right ,we are at an exponential science-technological development age. The thought of transport by the hundreds on flying vehicles was pure fantasy then, and we didn’t have the computer, the laptop, the tablet, the phone, the computer-watch when the airplane was realized. Development then was at a relaxing pace. Not anymore.

            I agree with you: “cold hard facts” do change too. Mao’s China pre-Nixon initiative and pre-globalization was the “cold hard fact” then. China as the powerhouse it is now is the “cold hard fact” now.

            • karlgarcia says:

              I wish robots mine our landfills first and we no longer need to destroy mountains except the mountains of landfills.

              I saw a picture of Payatas dumped with soil, it already looked like a hill because grass already grew.

              I have posted several times the potentials of landfill mining.
              Once they figure out how to do it, then we can go deep water exploration hiring the guys from the Discovery Channel and National Geographic if Elon Musk is not busy.

              If they can explore the Marianas Trench and the Philippine deep, why not BR?

              • NHerrera says:

                The Payatas Dump as a green hill must be quite a pleasant site.

                If we can all pitch-in to make other parts of our world “green” and focus on the other physical and spiritual nation-building, what a lovely pearl of the orient seas we will have.

                I am out for a walk and check on my barber now. One of these days, I may just decide on a Bato haircut. What delays the decision is that my good wife says my head has “corners” unlike Bato’s. 🙂

              • Haha, I suppose that is better than dents. 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                Then go for flat top. 🙂 I usually go for ‘number zero ‘every two months. in just two weeks after my haircut my hair becomes like that in my avatar.

            • sonny says:

              Ay naku, NH. I wish you and I (our generation) could say as in a card game “… read ’em and weep!” What the heck, I’ll be 1000% my sanguine self and say those words to posterity. Read on for yourself: 🙂

              “… Huge methane ice (burning ice) deposits in Benham Rise could turn the Philippines into a natural gas exporter.

              Natural gas is a fossil fuel used as a source of energy for heating, cooking, and electricity generation. It is also used as fuel for vehicles and as a chemical feedstock in the manufacture of plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals.

              The U.S. geological survey estimates that global deposits of methane hydrates may be greater than the world’s oil and fossil fuels combined.

              Methane ice deposits are believed to be a larger hydrocarbon resource than all of the world’s oil, natural gas and coal resources combined, it could become the next energy game changer. Experts dubbed the methane ice as the “fuel of the future.”

              In fact, the deposits of this methane ice in Benham Rise are believed to be so huge, it could make the Philippines one of the richest countries in the world. …”


              • NHerrera says:

                We can understand then why all the deception about “innocent passage” for 3 months in the area. Like SM — which maintains a bank of lands for later timely installation of a mall — the dear country friend is planning ahead with that methane resource estimate.

                While I do agree with Steve — about the inadequate current technology to mine in such depth or even if engineering is possible, the B/C is probably presently prohibitive — technology does not stand still. So better understand the situation and gather reliable data now through the mechanism of “innocent passage” and plan on how to approach friend PH when the time comes, especially when she is by then in the palm of our red hands so to speak.

              • NHerrera says:

                There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills.

                There’s Methane in Them Thar Benham Rise.

              • karlgarcia says:

                They always say we don’t have the tech.

                That is the purpose of consultants,outsourcing,fleet lease, tech transfer training and research and development, the internet and 3d printing.

                However when it is time for implementation, first to disappear are the consultants.

              • NHerrera says:

                I have not googled. But about your note on consultants, I am pretty sure anecdotes abound comparable to those about lawyers and economists. Hahaha. 🙂

              • methane ice (in Benham Rise to boot!).

                This is really interesting, sonny. Thanks.

                My last article on here was partly on Obama’s gambit re methane vs. co2 (methane up in the short term, is better than co2 up in the long term, eventually weaning i think was his point or grand vision),

                hence his calculus to up fracking across the US— one i’m very critical of as you all know,

                ie. all the leaks in actual fracking as well as in storage , ie.

                I’m wondering now, if methane as solid, will mitigate or render moot all these leaks and other potential for disasters in excavating methane ice.

                Under Obama, Hillary’s Dept of State pushed this new American fracking expertise even to China, as we speak, American fracking experts are helping out China,

                with Tillerson at the helm now , i’m sure this policy will continue.

                my bias here is that fossil fuels are by nature dirty, bad for the environment (though I know methane burns the cleanest in comparison),

                but fracking specifically have rendered towns empty in the midwest, and west —- but I think that has more to do with the boom town affect of fracking when they rolled it out (with no oversight, no enforcement, the Wild Wild West , even killing herds of wild mustangs! but supposedly oversight caught up, i doubt it)

                Does methane as solid make extraction safer? that’s the question.

                (karl, wasn’t the planet Matt Damon was on in “Interstellar” made up of methane ice?)

              • sonny says:

                LC, to try answers about methane ice might not be allowed by Joe’s blog rules. It might involve a some Chemistry.

              • I would welcome knowing more about methane ice. That is very much pertinent to the potential of Benham Rise, a point upon which we don’t have agreement.

              • sonny says:

                Joe, here goes on Methane-ice, aka Methane-calthrate

                As the name suggests, it consists of a clump of Methane molecules encased by a lattice cage (calthrate) of frozen water molecules, i.e. crystalline ice. Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon compound consisting of one Carbon atom with 4 hydrogen atoms bonded to it. Methane is also what we call and mine above sea-level as free natural gas or embedded in shale, extractible thru fracking (hydraulic fracturing). The gas is 80% methane and 20% other hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbon impurities.

                The US geological surveys suggest Methane-calthrate deposits as naturally occurring along continental shelves at north and south temperate latitudes. Methane-ice obtained from high-pressure and cold-temperatures are purer than their above-sea level natural gas. The drawback is that the Methane-ice separate into gas and liquid water as soon as the high pressure and low temperature is withdrawn. Although Benham Rise is close to the equator and not part of a continental shelf, Methane-Ice deposits are possible because BR is part of tectonic fault-lines that enable the formation of the calthrate.



            • sonny says:

              “There’s Methane in Them Thar Benham Rise.”

              @NH – from the videos, the research being done on methane ice have yielded very promising information and knowledge: e.g. the interaction of water molecules with methane at their simplest, purest conditions (hyperbaric & extreme cold) H-O-H side by side with H2-C-2H; high pressures and low temps are the conditions where diamonds and methane ice form, both of economic importance to man, much more so methane ice. If the promises of research are realized, then BR will put the Philippines on the energy map. The interests of Korea and Japan and the US on methane ice will be beneficial to the Philippines. Thus I hope the AFP and DOST will talk more intimately to each other and redeem Philippine politics in the process and @ Karl, mining landfills will just be a cottage industry for DENR 🙂 while mining will be an exercise in Philippine horticulture as Daniel Burnham envisioned for Manila, Baguio and Chicago. Chicago’s motto is “Urbs in horto” (City in a garden) and the Philippines will be “Hortus in mare oriente” (A garden in the eastern sea). 🙂

          • Seems that way to me, too, sonny, and for sure it is premature and maybe even crazy to say ‘here, China, you take it because we think we can’t do anything with it.”

  20. NHerrera says:

    I read the news about PRD signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and wanted to post that here but forgot. I was prodded to post it now after reading Inquirer today. For indeed as its Editorial says Duterte can change his mind, or at least be persuaded to do so on matters of great consequence — in spite of his earlier serious criticisms on the matter.

    Credit when due.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Credit due top of my head.

      Waste to energy
      Transport and Infra plan (if properly timed, it will work.)
      Eco Industrual zone plan
      FOI though very fragmented.

      Peace talks but it wont stop NPA and Radical Moros
      Sorry Chempo, I am a fan of SSS pension hike.
      Not a fan of no endo and mass housing for all.

      • chemrock says:

        Re SSS I’m all for assisting those retirees. Why not hand out the 2,000 pesos by some other ways? It’s ABC. Why take the risk to destroy a fund with 30m other active members? Reason is simple. It’s a lazy way out and pass the buck of an illiquid fund to the next bastard to take the office.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I could easily say SSS going bankrupt is ‘Their’ problem, but we all know it is Our problem at the end of the day.

  21. karlgarcia says:

    Here is the latest.

    They are really want a written go signal, I suppose, because the verbal orders orders were already given a few days ago.

  22. madlanglupa says:

    Whoever did these flags must’ve done quite a masterstroke. Hell of a way to throw shade.

    • NHerrera says:

      Right. If one blurs the photo at the left to get an impressionist-like painting, the red comes out strong.

      The courtship with candies and kisses continues, interspersed with a tap or slap on the face — BR “innocent passage” according to CN, not so innocent 3-month survey according to DND Lorenzana; now, construction of permanent weather monitoring structure at Scarborough Shoal according to CN, radar-type structure according to Justice Carpio. Oh well some ladies — forgive me TSH ladies — want that “Shades of Grey”-like treatment.

  23. Linya101 says:

    Thanks for thos. Very informative po!

  24. NHerrera says:

    Impeachment move here, impeachment move there. Both sides have used the tactic phrased by chempo in an earlier blog as, “Attack is the best form of defense.”

    But the possible move of going to ICC is being only threatened by one side. Need we ask why?

    If Alvarez undertakes to bring an opposition leader to ICC then one can truly throw back to him a phrase he used earlier in double measure — “Everyone is entitled to his own stupidity”


    DAVAO CITY – President Duterte said Chinese vessels sailing near disputed waters off the Philippines did not violate the country’s sovereignty, saying ships from other nations would be welcome to dock in Philippine ports.

    Mr. Duterte made the statement in reaction to reports the Chinese have been setting up radar and other surveillance installations close to the Panatag Shoal off western Philippines.

    He added: “We are not at war against China. We are not at war against America, and yet Americans ships come and go. Why should we not allow the Russians, they are also my friend. China is also our friend, and now we are improving on the economy because of the help of China. Bakit ka naman magwalanghiya para magdaan lang.”

    Duterte had said that he had an agreement with China allowing research activities in Benham Rise.

    • Oldmaninla says:

      IBRS, I read your post, I see your posting report clean and relevant.
      As a true Filipino-Asian, I may react positively or negatively to president Duterte statements,
      However, I have to respect him as our president for 6 years. I reserve my personal analysis comment later.

    • Oldmaninla says:

      It seems the Philippine social media blow up China-PI animosity the statement of SND Lorenzana. The metaphor is, “blow up a hill as if it’s like a high erupting volcano,”
      However, President Duterte is smart to try to cool it down.

      Why? We need peace and progress, and prosperity in our land.
      The Philippines has enough troubles since Spanish, American and Japanese occupation. We also had enough internal troubles with poverty, corruptions, destructive drugs, and crimes.

      It is time to be wise Filipino-Asian people, which means, to be prudent, with broad understanding, with discretion instead of pride and arrogance, in order to attain a peaceful life toward progress……of our kababayans…….

      We need friends instead of enemies.

  26. NHerrera says:


  27. karlgarcia says:

    Richard Heydarian’s take on BR

    “In a matter of days, the Benham Rise has become a new flashpoint, threatening to undermine increasingly warm, if not cordial, bilateral relations between Manila and Beijing.
    Home to precious mineral resources, which are critical for high-tech equipment production, fisheries, and untold reserves of oil and gas, which could address our energy security needs in light of Malampaya plant’s impending exhaustion, the Benham Rise area was confirmed as part of Philippine continental shelf in 2012.
    It took hundreds of millions of pesos and tireless research and topographic/oceanographic studies by an expert team of leading Philippine marine scientists, along with lawyers and government officials, to convince the global body to recognize the area as an extension of mainland Luzon, thus our continental shelf.
    As a result, the Philippines has, per international law, EXCLUSIVE sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the exploitation of seabed and fisheries resources in the area. Of course, per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, other countries can conduct ‘freedom of navigation’ and exercise their ‘right to innocent passage’.
    But this doesn’t mean other countries can (i) park their vessels in the area for prolonged period, (ii) conduct activities that are prejudicial to the defense interests of the Coastal State, and (iii) engage in unilateral oceanographic/marine scientific research in the area without the expressed, formal permission of the Coastal State, which has full jurisdiction over such activities within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.
    Thus, the stakes are extremely high for the Philippines, and the Duterte administration should remain steadfast, unequivocal and firm in its assertion of our sovereign rights in the area.
    First and foremost, it is important to underline the terrible timing of the whole affair, since it has come at a particularly sensitive stage in Philippine foreign policy, as President Rodrigo Duterte recalibrates its maritime security as well as China policy with vigor and verve.
    All of a sudden, Chinese (purported) maritime assertiveness is at the center of Philippine public discourse, with China hawks and Duterte skeptics engaging in a chorus of criticism to, perhaps, put a break on our shifting foreign policy.
    Second, it shows the abject lack of Filipino public trust in China. According to trusted contacts, it seems that Chinese vessels didn’t at all conduct any oceanographic research within our EEZ and continental shelf and was perhaps just stranded in the area due to mechanical problems.
    How a seemingly irrelevant and obscure event ended up, on a daily basis, on Philippine newspapers evinces the tremendous need for mutual confidence-building.
    Third, it also reflects the seeming lack of optimal synchronicity among various branches of the government, with the president claiming that he has given China ‘permission’ to move through the Benham Rise area, while the defense and foreign affairs departments stating they are not aware of such arrangement.
    Not to mention, per Philippine constitution, the president can’t just unilaterally permit other countries to dispatch oceanographic research teams within its Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.
    Above all, the whole affair shows the unmistakable necessity for China to tangibly demonstrate its good will towards the Philippines beyond high-minded rhetoric and carefully-crafted prose.”

    • edgar lores says:

      So the boat was “Made in China?”

      • karlgarcia says:

        Apparently those made in China stills breaks down easily, so much for their newly boasted tech and engineering might.
        Yeah right, it was mechanical failure, not surveying.😉

        • NHerrera says:

          Innocent mechanical failure, but too proud or embarrassed to tell it as it is?

          • karlgarcia says:

            Spying is more intimidating thsn admitting that yhir biat had s breakdown .
            I am inclined to believe that they were taking their time surveying the area.

    • NHerrera says:

      The current TSH blog, comments, and the Heydarian article are in sync with yvonne’s article in the other blog on the geopolitics of the region — PH, US, China, ASEAN, Russia.

  28. a distant observer says:

    Update: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Remarks on Benham’s rise:

    “The Philippine side is entitled to carry out exploration and exploitation of natural resources in this region. The Chinese side fully respects the Philippines’ rights and interests over the Benham Rise region. There has never been and will not be any dispute over this region between China and the Philippines.”

    “At the end of last year, Chinese vessels for marine scientific research did sail across relevant waters to the northeast of Luzon, the Philippines. Chinese vessels enjoy navigation freedom and the right to innocent passage. They did not conduct any operations or other activities.”

  29. edgar lores says:

    Update: Duterte now knows on which side of Luzon Benham Rise is

    • NHerrera says:

      edgar, that’s the problem with having a GLOBE for a planet. Imagine two islands A and B both situated at the equator, and B is 100 km to the right of A. You would say B is to the East of A. I will say not necessarily. Because if you travel to your WEST from A on the equator — and travel is rather fast these days — you will eventually end at B. So B is to the West of A TOO. I bet you Pacquiao will be confused too. You will then need NSA Esperon to explain the situation to him.

  30. chemrock says:

    Came across some interesting old news I think it’s useful to leave it here.

    National Security Adviser Esperon (29 Mar 2017): What’s so harmful about a Chinese survey ship in PHL waters?

    If you believe in this bullshit, or have bought into this, you better read this old news (15 June 2011):

    “The latest series of diplomatic protests lodged by the Philippines with China and submitted also to the United Nations have its roots to the controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking entered into by the Arroyo government with China in 2004 which allowed China and later on Vietnam to explore not only the Philippine-occupied islands in the disputed mineral-rich Spratlys but areas that are clearly Philippine territory.”

    “The JMSU was signed during Gloria Arroyo’s 2004 visit to China which paved the way for the signing of at least two graft-riddled deals: North Rail and national broadband network with ZTE agreements ”

    “To go around the constitutional prohibition, the government changed the word “exploration” to “seismic survey.”

    Clear case of deja vu.

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  1. […] Source: Defend Benham Rise! […]

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