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Ping laments China’s changes at Benham Rise: Hanggang tingin na lang ba tayo?

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Is the Philippines this helpless?

Sen. Panfilo Lacson raised this question late Tuesday amid reports that China managed to name five features of the disputed Benham Rise.

In a tweet, he said China had named five Benham Rise features as Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts, Haidonquing Seamount, Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamounts.

“It’s probably a matter of time before we see Chinese structures on more artificial islands. Damn us! Are we this helpless?” he said (https://twitter.com/iampinglacson/status/963391042929098752).

Earlier reports quoted maritime law “expert” Jay Batongbacal as saying China had successfully named five undersea features within the Philippine Rise.

Batongbacal is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of the Philippines and Director of UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

He said the International Hydrographic Organization approved last year the names proposed by China.

According to Batongbacal, three of the features were reportedly discovered during a 2004 survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office.

China then submitted the names for consideration by the IHO in 2014, he said.

On the other hand, two features were also reported discovered by the same Chinese ship during the same survey, but the name proposals were submitted by China in 2016.

Batongbacal said all these features are well within 200 nautical miles of the east coast of Luzon, within the “legal” continental shelf of the Philippines.