THE Philippines will contest the naming of five underwater features of the Philippines Rise (Benham Rise) by China and has taken initial steps towards this, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said on Wednesday.
Abella said the government has raised its objection to the research by the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on February 13 during second bilateral consultations with China, which also discussed the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to maintain and promote peace and stability in the region.
“There is a mechanism for bilateral conversation, and it (naming of features) was initially raised there, so that is first step,” Abella told reporters in a press conference at Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Pasay City.
Abella said the government would also register its objection before the body that approved the naming of the underwater features, referring to the International Hydrographic Organization – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (IHO-IOC GEBCO) Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN).
“As far as we can see at this stage we will have to proceed henceforth,” Abella said.
Asked if China expressed willingness to withdraw the names that it registered, Abella said there was no response.
Abella said the Philippines would course its concern through dialogue, which would include an agreement that no further researches must be done without permission from the Philippines. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA