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Pres. Duterte ordered the military to tell China that Benham Rise “is ours.”

BENHAM – Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte commanded the military to tell China that the Benham Rise belongs to the country.

Based on a recent news report in Phil Star Global, the President expressed in a news conference that he has ordered the military to assert the country’s ownership of the Benham Rise.

However, the 71-year-old President emphasized to them to do it “in friendship.”

Benham

Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte / Photo Courtesy of NOEL CELIS/AFP (Photo lifted from Inquirer)

According to the President, the Philippines has to be diplomatic. “I cannot match the might of China,” he said based on the news report.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed the previous week that Chinese vessels were seen crossing the Benham Rise waters the previous year – from the month of July until the month of December.

Reportedly, the Defense Secretary said that the government will possibly construct territorial markers on the area to signal ownership.

However, based on a previous news report, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson asserted that the Philippines cannot claim ownership of the Benham Rise.

Benham

Photo lifted from Business Mirror (Jonathan L. Mayuga)

According to the report, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a media conference that the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the 2009 submission of the Philippines in 2012.

It allowed the country to develop the natural resources in the Benham Rise and as well as to perform exploration as expressed bu Shuang.

However, Shuang emphasized that it does not necessarily mean that the Philippines can claim the said area as its own.

Based on the report, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson even cited the international law in which UNCLOS is a part of.

“According to international law… A coastal state’s rights over the continental shelf do not affect the legal status of the superjacent waters or of the air space above those waters, nor do they affect foreign ships’ navigation freedom in the coastal state’s EEZ and on the high seas,” he said according to the report.

Furthermore, he tagged the crossing of the Chinese vessels through part of Luzon as “innocent passage.”

According to the news report, Geng Shuang stressed that the Philippines and China have properly settled the differences. He expressed the hope that some individuals in the Philippines will prohibit themselves from “playing up the false information.

The Benham Rise is rich in minerals and as well as deposits of natural gas.

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