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 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 on a 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 it was allegedly neglected.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier insisted that only the Philippines has the sovereign right to explore and exploit natural resources in the Benham Rise.
“Again, I am putting the world on notice 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.