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Nagsalita rin! PH rebuffs Chinese names in Benham Rise

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By: Xave Gregorio

Malacañang is finally speaking out against China in its latest move to give Chinese names to five underwater features in the Philippine Rise, also known as Benham Rise.

The Palace said it “object[s]” and “do[es] not recognize” the Chinese names given to the undersea features off the northeastern seaboard of the Philippines.

“Per our Philippine embassy in Beijing, they have already raised our concern to China,” Roque said in a statement released Wednesday (February 14).

He added that the Philippine embassy in China is “considering” a recommendation to officially notify 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)

Roque said the Philippines is not a member of the 12-member SCUFN, to which China submitted their proposal to give names to five undersea features in the Philippine Rise during its meetings in Brazil on October 2015 and September 2017.

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal in a Facebook post said China has “sucessfully named” undersea features in the Philippine Rise, all within 200 nautical miles from the northern seaboard of Luzon.

China has christened the five features as Jinghao Seamount, Tianbao Seamount, Haindonquing Seamount, Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount.

According to Batongbacal, Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts are located just 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, while Haindonquig Seamount is located further east at 190 nautical miles — all within the recognized 200 nautical mile legal continental shelf of the Philippines.

China purportedly “discovered” three of the features in 2004 in a survey by the China Navy Hydrographic Office’ Li Shiguang Hao, while two other features were also “discovered” by the same ship in 2016.