MANILA -- The Philippine government is planning to contest the China-named features in the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) region, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Ernesto Abella confirmed Wednesday.
In a press conference, the official bared the government raised the issue of unauthorized research conducted by the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences during the second meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) between China and the Philippines in Manila last February 13.
"Both sides agreed that all marine science research henceforth must have the consent of the Philippines," he said.
Asked if the country will register its objection before the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the international body that approved the names, Abella said they would have "to proceed from henceforth."
During the BCM, Abella said China was "quite willing" to proceed upon agreed terms when the issue was raised but if they are willing to withdraw the names that they registered, he deferred to answer.
Dr. Jay Batongbacal, maritime law expert, meanwhile is apprehensive on 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 features, it was revealed that China has illegally entered in 2004 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 is already in place to discuss such 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 Philippines side," he said.
The reported "discovery" was made during a 2004 survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office, which submitted the proposed names for three features before the IHO in 2014.
The remaining two, "discovered" during the same survey, were proposed in 2016 by the China Ocean Minerals R&D Association. (PNA)