THE government plans to contest the features in Philippine Rise, formerly Benham Rise, that China has named, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said Wednesday.
He told reporters the government raised the issue of the unauthorized research conducted by the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences during the second meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism between China and the Philippines in Manila on Feb. 13.
“Both sides agreed that all marine science research henceforth must have the consent of the Philippines,” Abella said.
He made his statement even as Senator Bam Aquino said Foreign Affairs’ decision to contest the China-named features was one step toward safeguarding Philippine territory.
“We hope they will follow through on the nullification of these Chinese names in Philippine Rise,” Aquino said.
He said China had violated the Philippines’ sovereignty by naming those features. He expressed hope the administration would protect Philippine Rise and support the Filipino scientists who would be doing research on it.
“We should be investing in our own capacity to do research. We must never depend on foreign partnerships,” Aquino said as he presided over the investigation on Philippine Rise as chairman of the committee on science and technology.
Abella said the Philippines will register its objection to China’s action in Philippine Rise before the International Hydrographic Organization, the international body that approves names.
But Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert, said he was apprehensive about the IHO recalling its decision to approve the names.
“I am not confident that they will, but it’s worth a shot,” he said in a text message.
At a Senate probe on the naming of Philippine Rise’s features, it was revealed that China had illegally entered it in 2004, and that led to the naming of five features.
Asked if the country would file a diplomatic protest against China, Abella said a mechanism for bilateral dialogue was already in place to discuss the subject with China.
“That’s where next steps are going to be developed but basically, an agreement has been made that no further researches must be done without the permission of the Philippine side,” he said. PNA, with Macon Ramos-Araneta