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Gov't to give PH names to Benham Rise features named by China

15 February 2018

A spokesman for Philippine President has confirmed that the government objects and denies the Chinese given name of undersea terrains in a wide offshore area as it asserts its absolute sovereign rights.

The Philippines has already raised its concern to China over its naming of the undersea features in Benham Rise and may officially notify an global hydrographic body, which lists such maritime records, Roque said.

A leader of the country's opposition party on Thursday criticized China for reportedly naming some underwater features of Benham Rise, saying such right only belongs to the Philippines as the territory is part of its extended continental shelf.

Roque has continuously assured that the Philippine government under President Rodrigo R. Duterte is not taking a softer stand on China's continued militarization in the disputed waters.

The Philippines has insisted that foreign ships were allowed into the area, and that there had been as many as 30 foreign licenses granted to survey the area, including from the United States and China.

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Benham Rise lies on the other side of the archipelago from where Manila, Beijing, and four other governments have been locked in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Philippine Rise is not in the South China Sea, and Beijing has made no claim to it.

He added that they intend to name the features as soon as possible.

However, the Chinese government submitted the names Jinghao Seamount (found at about 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan province), Tianbao Seamount (found at about 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan province), Haidonquing Seamount (found at about 190 nautical miles east of Cagayan province), Cuiqiao Hill, and Jujiu Seamount. He said he will meet with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and other Cabinet members on how to deal with China's move.

On Wednesday, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino said Benham Rise was clearly a Philippine territory and China had no business there. According to the Philippine Navy, it was, again, an act of innocent passage.

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"Last year, the International Hydrographic Organization approved the names proposed by China".

Philippine diplomats had raised their concern with the Chinese authorities, he said.

"Yes, of course. Remember that the Spratly features have Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino names", he added. "What China has been doing is they are already bullying the Philippine government", Ejercito told reporters in an interview.

In 2012, the United Nations designated the rise as within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines, thus giving the country the sole right to exploit natural resources in the area.

"That's very clear we have sovereign rights in that area and we can exploit and explore that area", he noted.

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Gov't to give PH names to Benham Rise features named by China