Top officials to discuss names for 5 PH Rise features christened by China

February 15, 2018 - 11:46 AM
Fisherman's boat at Banham Rise
A subsistence fisherman works his boat around Benham Bank. Tricia Aquino / InterAksyon File

MANILA, Philippines — Top government officials will meet to discuss possible Filipino names to give to the five underwater features in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) named by China.

Pag-uusapan pa namin ni NSA (National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon) and ibang Cabinet members. (We will talk about it with NSA and other Cabinet members) As for me, I would also give these features Philippine names,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message Wednesday.

Lorenzana’s announcement came after maritime law expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal said China had named five undersea features, all within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the country, as approved by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2017.

Three of the features were reportedly “discovered” during a survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office in 2004 and the names submitted to IHO for consideration in 2014: the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts, said to be within 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, and the Haidonquing Seamount located east at 190 nautical miles.

The remaining two features were “discovered” by the same ship but proposals for the names came in 2016. Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount form the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself, Batongbacal said.

On Wednesday, Malacañang said the Philippine embassy in Beijing had raised the matter with China.