From Benham Rise to ‘PH Rise’? Rename sought to stress jurisdiction
The government is mulling to change the name of Benham Rise to “Philippine Rise” to emphasize Philippine jurisdiction in the area, Malacañang said on Saturday.
“The DFA and Office of the Executive Secretary have been tasked to look into the possibility of changing the name of ‘Benham Rise’ to ‘Philippine Rise’ to emphasize Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the area,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“A motion has been made subject to the conduct of the requisite legal and logistical study to effect the change,” he added.
The 13-million hectare Benham Rise, located east off Aurora province, is believed to be rich in gas and mineral resources.
The underwater plateau was named after American Admiral Andrew Benham who led a team of surveyors credited for discovering the area.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier disclosed that Chinese survey ships had been spotted at Benham Rise for as long as three months last year. The presence of a Chinese survey ship in the resource-rich area raised local and international concerns.
China said it was only “exercising navigation freedoms and the right to innocent passage only, without conducting any other activities or operations” on Benham Rise.
China earlier said the Philippines could not claim Benham Rise as its own territory even after the United Nations ruled that it was part of the country’s exclusive economic zone. The Philippine Navy has since deployed ships to regularly patrol in the area.
But on Friday night President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that China assured him they won’t claim the Benham Rise. IDL
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