The Philippines plans to contest China’s naming of five features in the Philippine Rise, commonly known as Benham Rise, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said the Philippine delegation raised during the bilateral consultation meeting (BCM) with China the unauthorized research conducted by the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The Philippines and China convened the second BCM on the South China Sea in Manila on February 14.
“Both sides agreed that all marine science research henceforth must have the consent of the Philippines,” Abella said in a press briefing.
China’s naming of the five undersea features in the resource-rich Philippine Rise came as a shock to lawmakers and the public.
In February 13, Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, revealed that the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) approved the names proposed by China in 2017.
Asked if China would withdraw the names they registered with the IHO, Abella said it was “not covered in the report.”
He did not say if the government would lodge its objection to Chinese names at the IHO and he reiterated that Manila would tackle the issue with Beijing through bilateral talks.
“We raised our concern. When we raised our concern, they were willing — quite willing to proceed upon agreed upon terms from henceforth,” he said.
The ties between the Philippines and China warmed up under the administration of President Duterte.
Beijing will host the third meeting of the BCM on South China Sea in the second half of 2018.