Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella
MANILA, Philippines —The illegal entry of China in the Philippine Rise led to the naming of its five underwater sea features.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) noted that no protest has been filed yet against China.
This, after the recommendation of the National Mapping Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) to rename the said natural resources.
The Philippine government chose to be diplomatic and have a bilateral talk with China.
“The mechanism we’re using is the bilateral dialogue and having said that, that’s where next steps are going to be developed. But basically, an agreement has been made that no further researches must be done without the permission of the Philippine side,” said DFA Usec. Ernesto Abella.
Abella said China agreed on this and added that they are ready for any negotiations to resolve the issue.
“We raised our concern. When we raised our concern, they were willing, quite willing to proceed upon agreed upon terms from henceforth,” said the undersecretary.
A maritime law expert, on the other hand, said that if the Philippines is serious in reclaiming the said feature, this should have been done before China’s discovery.
“The appropriate and peace communication should have been before the approval of the names instead of years later. The first name was approved back in 2015, pa. [The] Second set in 2016 and then the last two in 2017 or the last year,” said maritime law expert Prof. Jay Batongbacal.
For Senator Bam Aquino, the administration should fight for the country’s sovereign rights and support Filipino scientists in the conduct of independent research in the area.
Senate President Koko Pimentel, in the meantime, supports the idea of changing the name given by China on the said five features in Benham Rise.
“If there are procedures to give names to underwater features, there are also procedures to change the names. So labanan na lang yan (it’s a fight for) who has the right to give the name,” said Senate President Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.
Despite this, Pimentel said that there is nothing to worry about the said issue.
“Let’s not be alarmist, because giving name is not really claiming it,” said Pimentel.
As of now, bilateral dialogues between Philippines and China continue to clarify the illegal entry of China in the Philippine side. But the country’s position is clear — no state is allowed to enter the territory without permission from the Philippine side. — Mai Bermudez | UNTV News and Rescue