Trillanes wants PH to protest China naming Benham features
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV urged the Philippine government on Wednesday to file a diplomatic protest against China for naming five undersea features at the Philippine Rise (Benham).
“Yan maliwanag na talagang deneceived yung ating bansa. Humingi sila ng permiso dito sa ating bansa para mag conduct ng research tapos ganyan ang gagawin?” Trillanes, an opposition member, said in an interview at the Senate.
Trillanes was reacting to the disclosure of a maritime law expert that the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) approved last year the names proposed by China for the features their researchers discovered in Benham in 2004 — four years before the Philippines laid claim to the area and eight years before the United Nations approved the claim.
Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, identified the Benham features as the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts, Haidonquing Seamount, Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamounts.
“So palagay ko this time, it warrants at the very least, a diplomatic protest dahil hndi pwedeng hahayaan na lang yan. At least ngayon maliwanag na, dapat off limits na sa kanila itong Benham Rise,” he said.
Trillanes said a diplomatic protest was “largely symbolic” that the Philippines does not agree to the reported naming of the five features in the Philippine Rise by China.
Based on Batongbacal’s assertion, while the Chinese discovered the features in 2004, China submitted the three of the names to the IHO in 2014, during the time of President Benigno Aquino III. Two more names were submitted in 2016.
“Yung diplomatic protest is largely symbolic na we are not agreeing sa ginagawa na yan. E itong administrasyon na ito, ni diplomatic protest o ni salita man lang, a statement condemning o protesting itong nangyayari na yan e wala kang naririnig e. So a diplomatic protest is a good first step in the right direction,” Trillanes said.
Told that the administration considers China a “friendly force,” the senator reminded that any friendship has its limits.
“Huwag naman yung ginagahasa na yung ating bansa. May limits dun sa friendship,” he said.
Trillanes warned that China might not only come up with its own map but it might also claim the Philippine Rise later on if the government would not act swiftly on this latest move.
China has acknowledged Manila’s sovereign right over the Philippine Rise.
It was Senator Panfilo Lacson, who earlier raised an alarm over the reported naming of the five features in the Philippine territory.
“It’s probably a matter of time before we see Chinese structures on more artificial islands. Damn us! Are we this helpless?” Lacson wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. /cbb
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