Solon slams Chinese entry in Benham Rise
A former soldier turned lawmaker on Tuesday denounced the entry of Chinese ships in Benham Rise, a 13-million hectare mineral-rich undersea region east of Luzon, urging President Rodrigo Duterte to fight for our country’s territorial rights instead of making sweet deals with China.
In a press briefing at the House of Representatives, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano scored Duterte for selling out the country’s territory while making sweet deals with China in exchange for foreign investments and loans.
“Kailangang maging transparent ang Pangulo dahil parang pinagpapalit sa pera ang ating teritoryo,” Alejano said.
(The President should be transparent about this because it seems he is exchanging our territory for money.)
Alejano denounced the entry of Chinese ships in the Benham Rise, a biodiversity hotspot, even though this was not part of China’s nine-dash line which an arbitration court earlier ruled as invalid.
China had said the Philippines could not claim Benham Rise as its own territory, and that the passage of the Chinese survey ships supposedly to look for submarine stations was an “innocent passage” supported by international law.
President Rodrigo Duterte took a soft stance on the Benham Rise, adding that the Philippines should not fight China about sovereignty or ownership over the Benham Rise especially because the Philippines could not match China’s might.
“Why would I pick a fight, I’d rather talk,” Duterte said on Monday.
Alejano said China had misled the Philippines when it built illegal structures over the Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal which China claims are part of its territory.
“China foiled us in Mischief Reef, foiled us in Scarborough Shoal. Are we going to let China fool us again in Benham Rise?” Alejano said.
Alejano urged the administration to defend the country’s territory and not bow down to the whims of China.
“We won’t be able to assert our rights even in Benham Rise in the future if we want to always appease China,” Alejano said.
Alejano said Duterte may be liable for treason, an impeachable offense, if the administration does not defend its sovereignty over the Benham Rise.
“Kasama ang treason as basis for impeachment. Dapat pangalagaan ang ating teritoryo. ‘Pag ang Pangulo na mismo ang nag-va-violate niyan, he should be accountable,” Alejano said.
(Treason is a basis for impeachment. We should protect our territories. If the President is the one violating that, he should be accountable.) JE
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