Gov't urged: Be more vigilant over Philippine Rise

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2018 11:11 AM

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MANILA - The Philippines ought to be more vigilant in its watch of the Benham Rise after China named about 5 undersea features, an analyst said Monday.

Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said the subcommittee of the International Hydrographic Organization that stays on top of naming the underwater features might deem the country's protest "too late" because "it’s nearly a year after the last one and two years after the earlier ones."

"We need to be more vigilant and really much more active in participating in the international organization that is concerned with this matter, the International Hydrographic Organization," he told ANC's Headstart.

"We really need to put our money where our mouth is and give NAMRIA the ability to fully participate in all these activities," he said, referring to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the country's central mapping agency.

Batongbacal said the subcommittee is "a scientific body" and stays away from political issues as mandated by its charter.

"The problem here is that we did not make an issue out of it, despite the fact that the technical agencies have been given notice that it’s happening. There were these proposals ongoing and despite the fact that they made recommendations to intervene, nothing happened," he said.

Batongbacal said while it is correct that the government may give the underwater features Filipino names, this is only binding in the Philippines. He said the rest of the international community will go by what the IHO provides.