Acts done in Benham without PH knowledge a ‘cause of concern’:ex-envoy
MANILA — The Philippine government must verify fast China’s objective in naming five of the features in the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise), given “any act done by China” in the region without the country’s knowledge is “a cause of concern,” a former senior diplomat said.
The issue surfaced Monday after Dr. Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert, revealed China successfully named five undersea features in the region, all within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country, as approved by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2017.
Three of the features were reportedly “discovered” during a survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office in 2004 and the names were submitted to IHO for consideration in 2014.
The remaining two features were “discovered” by the same ship but proposals for names came in 2016.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Lauro Baja Jr., former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said the country must, “in the regime of EEZ, assert its rights.”
Further, he noted that the recognition by UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) on the plateau being within the country’s territory itself, stands as the “official” status of Philippine Rise.
The features named are the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts said to be within 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, and the Haidonquing Seamount located east at 190 nautical miles.
The other two named Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount forms the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself, said Batongbacal.
On Wednesday, Malacanang said the Philippine Embassy in Beijing already raised the subject with China. (PNA)
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