Sun.Star Cebu - - NATION - RUTH ABBEY GITA / Re­porter @RuthAbbey / SUNS­TAR PHILIP­PINES

Malacañang lashed out at China for nam­ing five un­der­sea fea­tures within the ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone of the Philip­pine Rise.

“We ob­ject and do not rec­og­nize the Chi­nese names given to some un­der­sea fea­tures in the Philip­pine Rise,” Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Harry Roque Jr. said in a state­ment.

Roque’s state­ment came af­ter a mar­itime law ex­pert re­vealed Mon­day, Fe­bru­ary 12, that China has suc­cess­fully named at least five un­der­sea fea­tures in the Philip­pine Rise.

As this de­vel­oped, the Philip­pines and China is­sued a joint state­ment, af­firm­ing their com­mit­ment to peace­fully re­solve the dis­pute in the South China Sea and avoid acts that would worsen the con­flict.

The Philip­pines and China have also agreed to be­gin by early March their ne­go­ti­a­tions for a legally-bind­ing code of con­duct in the South China Sea, as agreed be­tween the lead­ers of South­east Asian bloc and China last Novem­ber 13, 2017 in Manila.

This comes amid re­ports that China is about to com­plete its mil­i­tary bases on seven ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands in the dis­puted waters.

In a Face­book post on Mon­day, a Univer­sity of the Philip­pines pro­fes­sor re­vealed China’s al­leged move to name five seamounts that lie within the Philip­pine-owned ter­ri­tory.

Jay Ba­tong­ba­cal, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines In­sti­tute for Mar­itime Af­fairs and Law of the Sea, said China named the seamounts Jing­hao and Tian­bao, lo­cated some 70 nau­ti­cal miles east of Ca­gayan; Haidon­quing, which is found east at 190 nau­ti­cal miles; and Cuiqiao Hill and Ju­jiu that form the cen­tral peaks of the Philip­pine Rise un­der­sea ge­o­log­i­cal prov­ince.

“All are within 200 nau­ti­cal miles of the east coast of Lu­zon, not in the re­gion of the ex­tended con­ti­nen­tal shelf but well within the ‘le­gal’ con­ti­nen­tal shelf,” Ba­tong­ba­cal said.

Ba­tong­ba­cal said three of the fea­tures were re­port­edly dis­cov­ered dur­ing a 2004 sur­vey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Of­fice. The names were sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion by IHO in 2014.

The two other seamounts were also found by the same ship dur­ing the same sur­vey but the name pro­pos­als were sub­mit­ted by the China OCean Min­er­als R&D As­so­ci­a­tion in 2016.

Roque said the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion, through the Philip­pine Em­bassy in Bei­jing, has al­ready raised con­cern to China over its sup­posed nam­ing of Philip­pine Rise’s un­der­sea fea­tures.

“They (Philip­pine Em­bassy in China) are like­wise con­sid­er­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion to of­fi­cially no­tify the chair of the In­ter­na­tional Hydrographic Or­ga­ni­za­tion – In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Oceano­graphic Com­mis­sion Gen­eral Bathy­met­ric Chart of the Oceans’ Sub-Com­mit­tee on Un­der­sea Fea­ture Names (SCUFN),” he said.

“The Philip­pines, as many of you know, is not a mem­ber of the SCUFN, which is com­posed of 12 mem­bers. China’s pro­pos­als to re­name some un­der­sea fea­tures in the Philip­pines were sub­mit­ted to SCUFN dur­ing its meet­ings in Brazil on Oc­to­ber 12 to 16, 2015 and Septem­ber 19 to 23, 2017,” he added.


PHILIP­PINE TER­RI­TORY. A lone Philip­pine flag sits in front of a Sar­co­phy­ton soft co­ral at a deep­wa­ter reef in the Philip­pine Rise.

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