Herbert talks on Benham with CA
QUEZON City Mayor Herbert Bautista faced on Wednesday the powerful Commission on Appointments, which deliberated on his promotion to a senior military position.
During the hearing, Bautista said the inclusion of Benham Rise in the 1987 Constitution’s definition of the national territory would further strengthen the country’s claim to the resource-rich waterway on its east coast.
“The Philippine Constitution was ratified 30 years ago, way before the approval by the United Nations of our undisputed claim that Benham Rise is part of the Philippine continental shelf and territory. This gives us another reason to amend the Constitution and make it attuned to the times,” he said.
The mayor was recently promoted to full colonel in the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, thus his promotion was subjected to congressional scrutiny.
He articulated his views on Benham Rise in informal talks that preceded the CA deliberations and confirmation hearing.
Bautista earned a Master in National Security Administration degree from the National Defense College of the Philippines.
Despite its proximity to the provinces of Aurora and Isabela, Benham Rise was not included in the Constitution’s definition of national territory.
“China probably saw this gap in our definition of our national territory, that’s why they’re now testing the waters [and] how we’d mount our legal defenses,” he said.
The United Nations has officially approved and recognized the claim of the Philippines in April of 2012, in strict compliance with the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China’s Foreign Ministry, however, claimed that although the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf had approved the country’s claim to Benham Rise, “it does not mean the Philippines can take it as its own territory.”