Securing Benham Rise Part 1

"[T]here is the issue of sovereign right viz sovereignty over Benham."

Benham Rise is not Scarborough Shoal. The Benham Plateau (also known as Benham Rise) is a seismically active undersea region and extinct volcanic ridge located in the Philippine Sea approximately 250 km (160 mi) east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela. Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal is a disputed territory claimed by the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Philippines, located between the Macclesfield Bank and the Luzon island in South China Sea.
 
Then there is the issue of sovereign right viz sovereignty over Benham.  Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has clarified that Benham Rise is not part of Philippine national territory because the country does not have sovereignty over the area. Under international law, however, the Philippines has "sovereign rights" (less than sovereignty, but exclusive and superior to the rights of other states) over Benham Rise because “we have exclusive right to explore and exploit the oil, gas and other mineral resources in Benham Rise which has been confirmed by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf as part of the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines.”
 
Carpio stated that ‘'other states, like China, have the right to conduct in Benham Rise (1) fishery research because the fish in the ECS belongs to mankind; (2) surveys on water salinity and water currents because the water column in the ECS belongs to mankind; and (3) depth soundings for navigational purposes because there is freedom of navigation in the ECS.”  Further pointing out, 'if the Chinese vessels were looking for submarine passages and parking spaces, that would be part of freedom of navigation and the Philippines has no reason to complain. If the Chinese vessels were conducting seismic surveys to look for oil, gas and minerals, then they could not do that because UNCLOS has reserved the oil, gas and minerals in the ECS to the Philippines.”
 
The problem again was the framing being suggested: 1) PRRD allowed China to enter and do the study; 2) PRRD did not inform his Defense and Foreign Affairs heads respectively; 3) PRRD was referring to Scarborough and not Benham in his explanations; 4) Duterte should confront China by issuing a strong statement; and 5) Duterte does not know what he is saying.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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