MANILA - The Philippine government is planning to contest the naming of 5 underwater features of Benham Rise by China.
In a press briefing on Wednesday morning, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said the government raised the unauthorized research conducted by the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences during bilateral consultations held last February 13 in Manila.
"Both sides agreed that all marine science research henceforth have the consent of the Philippines," he said.
Maritime law expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal earlier revealed that the International Hydrographic Organization approved in 2017 the names of 5 undersea features proposed by China at the Philippine Rise or commonly known as Benham Rise. It is roughly the size of Greece and believed to be rich in biodiversity and tuna.
The features were allegedly discovered in 2004, during a survey by Li Siguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office. The names were submitted for consideration in 2014.
Asked whether China is going to withdraw the names they registered, Abella said "that is not covered in the report."
"When we raised our concern, they were quite willing to proceed upon agreed upon terms from henceforth," he said.
The Philippine Rise, which the United Nations designated in 2012 as within the jurisdiction of the Philippines, is roughly the size of Greece and believed to be rich in biodiversity and tuna.
It is not in the South China Sea and Beijing has made no claim to it. However, Filipino nationalists are suspicious of China's interest in the area. With Reuters