Duterte wants to change name of Benham Rise to 'Philippine Ridge'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2017 05:17 PM

A technical diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 2016. Screengrab from a video produced by Oceana Philippines.

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he plans to change the name of Benham Rise to "Philippine Ridge."

“I will officially claim it as ours and rename it hindi Benham Rise. I will call it Philippine Ridge," Duterte told reporters in Palawan.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella last Saturday said the government was was studying the possibility of renaming Benham Rise to "Philippine Rise" to strengthen the country's sovereign rights over the resource-rich undersea plateau.

The extended continent shelf is named after American geologist, Andrew Benham, who reportedly surveyed it in 1933. 

Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino, opted to use West Philippine Sea when referring to South China Sea to assert Manila's claim to the resource-rich islands, reefs and outcrops that are also claimed by China and other neighbors. 

Unlike in the South China Sea, Beijing has not contested Manila's claim to Benham Rise.

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo had previously said that China has "repeatedly" recognized the Philippines' sovereign rights over the continental shelf.