Gov’t upholds sovereignty over PH rise, plants flag
PHILIPPINE RISE—Manila asserted its sovereign rights over Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) on Monday by planting the national flag there as the nation marked the 119th anniversary of its independence.
Divers from the Philippine Navy’s newest ship, the BRP Davao del Sur, set the flag on a concrete base 57 meters below the water surface.
“As we hoisted the Philippine flag underwater on Philippine Rise, we also raised the flag above deck of the Navy’s biggest and newest ship, the BRP Davao del Sur,” Lt. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo, chief of the military’s Northern Luzon Command, said in a speech.
“We gather from all walks of life to put up the most powerful symbol, driven by passion of our collective cause, to reecho our sovereignty over Philippine Rise,” he added.
The Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and civilian volunteers participated in the event.
Aurora Rep. Bellaflor Amhara-Castillo and Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil attended the event as guests of honor.
Fiber glass flag
The flag, in the standard size of 0.9 m x 1.35 m, is made of fiber glass to withstand damage by saltwater. The pole, made of stainless steel, is 14 meters tall.
Maj. Christopher Constantino, a Scout Ranger and member of the Presidential Security Group, served as one of the lead divers.
He said that despite some glitches, the divers were able to plant the flag underwater in about 19 minutes.
The United Nations granted the Philippines’ claim to Philippine Rise as an extension of the country’s continental shelf in 2012.
The undersea plateau and biodiversity hotspot is located off eastern Luzon, in the Pacific Ocean.
The 13-million-hectare submerged region is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the east.
Chinese survey ships were spotted in the area for about three months last year.
The sightings prompted President Duterte to assert Philippine sovereignty over the region and rename it Philippine Rise through Executive Order No. 25, which he signed on May 16.
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