Palace: No bad faith on China’s naming of PH Rise features

By Jelly Musico

February 15, 2018, 3:28 pm

MANILA -- While it is objecting to China’s naming of Philippine Rise underwater features, Malacanang finds no bad faith on China’s action since it was just a scientific process.

“We are not attributing bad faith to China,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday, a day after he objected to China’s move to name five undersea features at the Philippine Rise.

Roque explained that China may have just followed the United Nations' scientific process in giving names to areas discovered by a certain country.

“Basically it is not a political process. It is a scientific process. If I am not mistaken, a country which discovered these, they are the one which will give names,” he further explained.

China is one of the countries which conducted scientific research at the Philippine Rise before President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered to stop foreign explorations in the area also known as Benham Rise.

According to media reports, the five undersea waters that have now Chinese names include Jinghao, Tianbao, Haidonquing and Jujiu Seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.

Despite China’s action, Roque said there is nothing to be alarmed because China recognizes the Philippines’ sovereign rights at the Philippine Rise.

“Giving name does not mean they are claiming it. China recognizes that they have no any rights at the Philippine Rise and they recognize our sovereign rights,” Roque said.

“The naming does not entail sovereign rights because sovereign rights is exclusive right to explore and exploit, conduct scientific research, lay submarine cables and build artificial islands including right to over flight,” he added.

Roque, nevertheless, said the Philippines would not use the Chinese names but instead Filipino names would be given to each underwater feature found at the Philippine Rise.

“Our stand, it’s up to them (if other countries will give name). But on our part, we will give Filipino names just like what we did in ignoring the name that the Americans used. It is now a Philippine rise,” Roque said.

He expressed hope that China will not take it against the Philippines if the Filipinos will not use the Chinese names.

“It is clear that Philippine Rise is under our sovereign rights. We don’t see basis for China to be alarmed with our position that we will insist on our naming rights,” Roque said.

Roque also believed that the issue will not affect the improving relations between China and the Philippines under the Duterte administration.

“It will not be affected because there is no controversy. Maybe it will affect only if this thing happened in areas where there is an ongoing dispute,” he added.

The Philippines and China as well as Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have competing claims in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Roque said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now nominating a Filipino expert to become a member of the UN body which does scientific process in naming undersea features.

“I’m not in authority to name him but he is a scientist,” he said.

The Philippine Rise, located in the east side of the Philippines, is a 13-million hectare territory which the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) awarded to the Philippines as part of the country's extended continental shelf in 2012. (PNA)