DFA: Gov't to oppose Chinese names for Benham Rise undersea features

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — The Foreign Affairs Department said the Philippines will oppose the names China gave to five undersea features of Benham Rise, locally known as Philippine Rise.

"The Philippine government is planning to contest the China-named features in the Philippine Rise," Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said in a Wednesday press briefing, although he did not mention which forum the issue would be raised.

Benham Rise is located 135 miles off the coast of Aurora province and lies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), where the country has the sole right to its resources.

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said on Feb. 13 that China successfully named four undersea mountains and a hill in the area.

Read: China names five undersea features in Benham Rise

The International Hydrographic Organization approved the names in 2017 after China submitted these to the body in 2014.

However, Malacañang said on Feb. 14 that it will not recognize the Chinese names.

Read: Palace: PH won't recognize Chinese names of Benham Rise features

Meanwhile, Abella said China and the Philippines likewise tackled the issue of unauthorized researches.

"We have raised the issue of unauthorized researches conducted by the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences during our Bilateral Consultation Mechanism in Manila last February 13," he said. "Both sides agreed that all marine science research henceforth must have the consent of the Philippines."

This came after the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said on Monday that Filipino scientists were only on board the Chinese research vessel for half the time it was in the Philippine EEZ.

Read: Breach of marine scientific research permit can be grounds for denial of future applications - DFA

Sen. Bam Aquino said this is a breach of the marine scientific research permit that the Foreign Affairs Department issued to China.