China’s naming of Benham Rise undersea features ‘wake up call’ for PH — Alejano

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Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano on Wednesday warned of the implications of China’s move to name undersea features of Benham Rise, or Philippine Rise, which is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf.

He said he action implied the “erosion and ultimately the concession” of the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the region.

“The successful naming of features within the Philippines’ legal maritime territory further normalizes China’s aggressive and all too often unlawful maritime behavior. The adverse implications of which are the erosion and ultimately, the concession of the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the region,” he said.

Alejano is set to file a House resolution condemning the naming of five undersea features in the Philippines Rise by China.

The undersea features include Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts located some 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, the Haidonquing Seamount located east at 190 nautical miles, and the Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount that form the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province.

Alejano said he welcomed Malacanang’s “rejection” of Chinese names on Benham undersea features, but he demanded that the Duterte administration be more assertive and consistent in exercising the country’s exclusive rights over Benham Rise.

“The government must be resolute in asserting our rights and protecting our territory instead of downplaying threats of Chinese encroachment. The audacity of China, to the extent of naming features found within our very own territory, is reinforced by the passivity of the Duterte administration,” he said.

The former Marine officer said China’s naming of undersea features should be a wake-up call for the Philippine government to take a proactive stance.

“With China’s persistent bastardization of the country’s sovereignty, as well as international interest on the resource-rich plateau, it is important that we now adopt a proactive attitude in the Philippine Rise,” Alejano said.