A 12,000-HECTARE naval support facility and naval air detachment in Casiguran, Aurora was inaugurated on Thursday, a facility that is seen to boost security at the resource-rich Philippine Rise located off the northeastern side of the country.  

“What we are inaugurating will play a crucial role in safeguarding marine treasures that are unique to the Philippines as the structure will not only protect its sovereignty and national security but also the natural marine resources that cannot be found elsewhere,Senator Francis N. Tolentino, who attended the inauguration ceremony, said in mixed English and Filipino in a statement. 

Mr. Tolentino, vice-chair of the Senate Defense committee, filed Senate Bill 1143 or the Philippine Archipelagic Defense Act, which tagged the Casiguran, Aurora naval operating base as a priority siteof the Philippine Navy’s forward operating bases under the Strategic Basing Plan 2040. 

Plans to construct the base started in May 2017 after Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said the government must strengthen efforts to secure the Philippine Rise, formerly called Benham Rise. 

President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued an executive order that year on the name change. In 2018, he declared portions of Philippine Rise a marine-protected area limited to Filipino scientific research. 

On Dec. 7, 2020, the Philippine Navy and the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport signed a deal for the naval base project. 

A United Nations commission ruled in 2012 that the Philippines has sovereign rights over the underwater plateau, which Filipino scientists have confirmed to be abundant in marine and mineral resources and gas deposits. Alyssa Nicole O. Tan