Lorenzana: Chinese survey ship spotted in Benham Rise
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday that there is a possibility that China is exploring Benham Rise, a 13-million hectare undersea region located east of Luzon, off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora.
A Chinese survey ship has been spotted plying the Benham Rise for about three months last year, he said in a forum on security threat assessment at the National Defense College of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo.
IN THE KNOW: Benham Rise
He said they did not know the reason for the Chinese survey but said he received a report the Chinese could be searching for potential spots to place their submarines.
“We have ordered the Navy if they will see this service ship this year, start to drive them away and ilayo sila from the eastern side of the Philippines,” Lorenzana said.
A Chinese survey ship also figured in an accident in Benham Rise last year and it unloaded a patient to Surigao City, he added.
“Kaya alam natin na andun sila (That’s why we know they’re there),” he said, adding they also have satellite photos of Chinese ships in Benham Rise.
The United Nations recognized Benham Rise as a property of the Philippines in 2012. JE