Palace voices concern over Chinese ship in Benham Rise
Malacañang on Friday expressed concern over the presence of Chinese ship in Benham Rise, a 13-million hectare undersea region located east of Luzon.
“We are concerned about the presence of a Chinese ship in Benham Rise, which has been recognized by the United Nations as part of the Philippines,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“The Department of National Defense has already notified the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding this matter as we continue to assert our sovereignty over our territory,” Abella added.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said a Chinese ship has been spotted plying the Benham Rise for about three months last year.
Lorenzana said he received a report the Chinese could be searching for potential spots to place their submarines.
The Philippines and China have been locked in a longstanding maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). On July 12, 2016, the United Nations tribunal favored the Philippine government in its diplomatic protest but China refused to recognize the ruling.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he would not raise the ruling with China for now as we have yet to build our strained relationship with the superpower nation.
Duterte, however, assured that he would raise the issue during his term as President. RAM