Sen­a­tors call for diplo­matic protest ver­sus China over ‘names’in PH Rise

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MANILA — Four sen­a­tors on Wed­nes­day urged the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment to file a diplo­matic protest against China for nam­ing five un­der­sea fea­tures at the Philip­pine Ri se (Ben­ham) over ap­pre­hen­sions that China may lay claim over the vast re­source-rich Philip­pine ter­ri­tory.

Sen­a­tor Joseph Vic­tor Ejercito said a diplo­matic protest should be filed be­cause “it is our sworn duty to pro­tect and fight for our sovereignty and pro­tect our ter­ri­to­rial i nt egr i t y.”

“What China has been do­ing is they are al­ready bul­ly­ing the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment. Of course, ad­mit­tedly they are a su­per­power... we can­not match them in terms of mil­i­tary might,” he said dur­ing a press brief­ing.

“But we have to ex­haust all pos­si­ble le­gal and diplo­matic means to fight for our ter­ri­to­ries and fight for our sovereignty,” Ejercito said.

He added that giv­ing Chi­nese names to un­der­sea fea­tures in the Philip­pine Rise is al­ready a sign that China wanted to in­fringe on our ter­ri­tory.

“May balak ta­laga silang kunin din sa atin ito so bakit nila pa­pan­galanan ng Chi­nese names yun? (They re­ally in­tend to grab it from us. In the first place, why will they give Chi­nese names to these fea­tures?)”Ejercito said.

Mean­while, Sen­a­tor Paolo Benigno Aquino IV stressed that Ben­ham Rise is clearly Philip­pine ter­ri­tory and its fea­tures are not for China to name.

“It is only right that the gov­ern­ment counter any fur­ther moves to name fea­tures of our ter­ri­tory and pro­pose reme­dies for the two for­mally named by China through the In­ter­na­tional Hy­dro­graphic Or­ga­ni­za­tion (IHO),” he said in a state­ment sent to me­dia.

“It is im­per­a­tive that we pro­tect our ter­ri­tory from any for­eign in­ter­est. Da­pat nang magka­roon ng mat­i­bay at ma­li­naw na plano ang pama­ha­laan sa Philip­pine Rise, lalo ngay­ong unti-unti nang ku­mik­i­los ang China para ito’y angkinin (The gov­ern­ment must have a con­crete and clear plan on what to do with the Philip­pine Rise es­pe­cially now that China is slowly mov­ing to claim it.) ,” Aquino said.

Sen­a­tor An­to­nio Tril­lanes IV also urged the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment on Wed­nes­day to file a diplo­matic protest against China for nam­ing five un­der­sea fea­tures at the Philip­pine Rise (for­merly Ben­ham Ri se) .

In an in­ter­view, the op­po­si­tion law­maker said that giv­ing Chi­nese names to Ben­ham Rise fea­tures war­rants a diplo­matic protest at the very least.

“Yung (The) diplo­matic protest is largely sym­bolic na (that) we are not agree­ing sa gi­na­gawa na yan (with what they do)… . A diplo­matic protest is a good first step in the right di­rec­tion,” Tril­lanes said.

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view, Sen­a­tor Pan­filo Lac­son said the Chi­nese ac­tion is a solid ba­sis for fil­ing a diplo­matic protest as the fea­tures named by China were clearly within Philip­pine ter­ri­tory.

Lac­son said the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment should im­me­di­ately work to ad­dress the is­sue, warn­ing that giv­ing Chi­nese names to fea­tures in the Philip­pine Rise can cre­ate an im­pres­sion that China could lay claim to the ar ea.

“Ang ap­pre­hen­sion natin is, kung pinan­galanan ng Chi­nese names ang sea mounts, di far-fetched na balang araw sabi­hin nila kanila na na­man yan. At baka mag-es­tab­lish sila ng mga struc­tures and cre­ate ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands just like what hap­pened sa West Philip­pine Sea (Our ap­pre­hen­sion is if they gave Chi­nese names to these sea mounts, it’s not far-fetched that some­day, they will claim it as theirs. They may even es­tab­lish struc­ture and cre­ate ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands just like what hap­pened at the West Philip­pine Sea),” Lac­son said.

The sen­a­tors re­ac­tions were is­sued af­ter a mar­itime law ex­pert bared on Mon­day that the IHO ap­proved last year the names pro­posed by China for the fea­tures their re­searchers dis­cov­ered in Ben­ham in 2004.

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