Displaying items by tag: benham rise

Did PH grill China on Benham Rise?

MANILA – Did the Philippines grill China on why a Chinese ship sailed for months near Benham Rise?
Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said the Philippines already asked China for a clarification. Manalo said it was "enough" that China said "they recognize" the Philippines' rights over Benham Rise.
Was China's explanation enough?
Journalists asked Manalo about this on Tuesday, April 4, during a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).
Referring to China, veteran journalist Gabby Tabuñar asked Manalo, "So you never pressed them on what they were doing there?"
Manalo replied, "Yes, in fact we did, and their reply was they recognize our sovereign rights. And well, I think that's quite enough because it does indicate that they realize that they would need permission to be there, in certain parts of Benham Rise."
The Chinese ship was spotted near Benham Rise from November 2016 to January 2017. Its presence there stirred controversy because President Rodrigo Duterte said there was an agreement for China to visit Benham Rise.
The Philippines has the exclusive rights to explore and exploit Benham Rise, a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau said to be rich in resources such as natural gas.
Manalo earlier said the Philippine government didn't issue a permit to China, and that Duterte issued only a general invitation for other countries to "visit the Philippines."
Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal, however, said the ship named Xiang Yang Hong 03 was reported by Chinese media to have conducted a "world record-setting voyage, taking samples of the seabed, conducting a benthic survey, and taking samples of the water."
'Why should that be enough?'
In the FOCAP forum on Tuesday, Jiji Press reporter Dana Batnag also asked Manalo about China's presence near Benham Rise.
She referred to China's statement that it respects the Philippines' rights. "So simply saying that 'we recognize your rights,' why should that be enough for us?"
"Well, we asked them to clarify, and that was their response," Manalo said.
Batnag replied, "But it was not a clarificatory response. Why should we accept that?"
Manalo said: "Well I think you should ask China. We asked them for that, and that's what they told us. But you know, they have consistently applied for permission, and… as I said, in many cases, they have already been denied. So in this particular case, as I said, we were investigating, and that was how they replied."
Toward the end of the FOCAP forum, Tabuñar, who emceed the event and was seated beside Manalo, asked another question that made other journalists nod.
Turning to Manalo, Tabuñar asked: "You know, I'm bothered, Mr Secretary, about your answer about Benham Rise. I can't get it out of my mind. These Chinese are there, and you ask them, what are they doing there? And all they say is, 'We respect your sovereignty.' What are they doing? Aren't you curious?"
"They may be laying mines, they may be fishing, they may be measuring. Aren't you curious as to what they're doing? Aren't you curious? If somebody comes within your home, your territory, and they say, 'O nandito ako (I'm here), because I recognize that this is yours, your sovereign rights.' And after that, no more," Tabuñar said, as other journalists laughed.
The veteran journalist said, "I want to ask, 'Ano'ng ginagawa mo rito?' (What are you doing here?)"
Manalo answered, "Well yes we're curious, that's why we asked." – Rappler.com


From Benham to Philippine Rise? Why not?

After President Rodrigo Duterte shrugged off fears that China was encroaching into Benham Rise, his administration is now thinking of changing the group of islands’ name to Philippine Rise in a symbolic gesture of asserting sovereignty, according to the President’s spokesperson.

Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesperson, said the name change would “emphasize Philippine sovereign rights” over Benham, which Chinese ships had entered recently, raising fears that China was intruding into the area that had been declared by the United Nations as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, or underwater landmass that forms part of the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte dismissed reports about Chinese intrusion into Benham, saying he knew about it beforehand and that the vessels that China sent to the area were there for research only.

Abella said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Office of the Executive Secretary had been tasked with fleshing out the plan to change Benham’s name to Philippine Rise.


Abella’s announcement came after Mr. Duterte, on Friday, said he was assured by China that it was not staking a claim on Benham. The President, however, did not say if China recognized Benham as part of Philippine territory.

The area, also known as Benham Plateau, is a 13-million hectare undersea region off the provinces of Isabela and Aurora that is potentially rich in mineral and natural gas deposits.

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Mr. Duterte had repeatedly said he would not risk irritating China over territorial issues in the South China Sea as he continued to look at the Asian giant as a source of financing for his big-ticket projects.

“The money from China is coming in. I think I made the correct decision to change course [on foreign policy],” the President said.

By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:32 AM April 02, 2017


PH, China squabble over Benham Rise


MANILA – A 13-million-hectare underwater plateau known as Benham Rise has become the latest cause of a squabble between the Philippines and China after it was learned that a Chinese vessel had intruded there recently.
On Monday, March 13, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a statement over the Chinese presence in the area off Aurora province, in conflict with at least two of his Cabinet secretaries. The president initially said that he had granted permission for the Chinese vessel to conduct a survey of the area, but Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he found the incursion “very concerning.”
Mr. Duterte then added that he did not want to pick a fight with China over Benham Rise. He, however, admitted that China was laying claim to the disputed area, not unlike its claim of ownership of Scarborough Shoal.
“Let us not fight over sovereignty or ownership at this time,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that “things are going great for my country” vis-à-vis its relations with China.
On Tuesday, March 14, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “Benham Rise belongs to the Filipino people.”
The commotion was triggered last week by a statement from China that the Philippines cannot take Benham Rise “as its own territory.”
By Tuesday, this week, however, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said her country “fully respects the Philippines’ rights over the continental shelf in the Benham Rise, and there is no such thing as China challenging those rights.”

She added that China merely sought to enjoy the freedom of navigation in the area.
It was another spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Geng Shuang, who had said that the Philippines had no right to claim Benham Rise as its own.
While part of the Philippine Sea, the country cannot claim “ownership” over the plateau, but can only claim exclusive rights to develop the area under international law.
It is believed that besides being rich with minerals, Benham Rise may have commercial quantities of natural gas, which China’s booming economy desperately needs as a source of power.
A large portion of Benham Rise falls within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, as recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea.
The previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III had taken China to international court over its claim over Scarborough Shoal, winning the case in 2012.
Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday noted "recent negative observations" on Benham Rise as well as the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a statement, Del Rosario said this shows that "promoting national security, including protecting what is ours, must be paramount."
"Under no circumstances would it be wise for us to trade away our national security," Del Rosario said. – With an additional report from Rappler

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