PH protests naming of 5 Benham features by China

  • Written by Efren Montano
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 306

THE Philippine government has protested China’s move to name five undersea features in the Benham
Rise (Philippine Rise).

We object and do not recognize the Chinese names given to some undersea features in the
Philippine Rise,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement to Palace reporters
yesterday.
    
“Per our Philippine embassy in Beijing, they have already raised our concern to China,” he
added.
    
The embassy is also looking at notifying the chair of the International Hydrographic
Organization-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans
(IHO-IOC GEBCO) Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) about the development.
    
“The Philippines, as many of you know, is not a member of the SCUFN, which is composed of 12
members. China’s proposals to rename some undersea features in the Philippine Rise were submitted to
SCUFN during its meetings in Brazil on October 12-16, 2015 and September 19-23, 2017,” Roque said.
    
Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said in Facebook post that China’s proposed names for
five features in the undersea region had been approved by the IHO-IOC-GEBCO.
    
These are Jinghao, Tianbao, Haidonquing, Jujiu seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.
    
Batongbacal said they raised the matter with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea but was
allegedly neglected.
    
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier insisted that only the Philippines has the sovereign
rights to explore and exploit natural resources in the Benham Rise.
    
“Again, I am putting notice to the world that the Philippine Rise which they call Benham
Rise is ours. It’s ours and the economic zone is ours,” Duterte said in a press conference last
Friday.
    
“And if the continental shelf extends beyond the 200 [nautical miles], hanggang doon ’yan.
Because it’s a theory of geography, geopolitics included, that we can rightfully claim the
continental shelf because it is the top part of the land mass which is under the sea. I hope it does
not reach Guam because Guam will be ours,” he added.
    
Duterte also warned that he might order the Philippine Navy to fight foreigners if they take
anything from Benham Rise, a 13 million-hectare underwater plateau off Aurora province which is seen
as a potential source of oil, natural gas and other marine resources.