PH has sovereign right over Benham – analyst


ONLY the Philippines has the right to explore and exploit the natural resources in Benham Rise although the country cannot claim the area as its own territory, a political analyst said Tuesday.

Professor Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) explained that although Benham Rise belongs to the Philippines, it is not considered part of the country’s territorial waters.

“We do not have sovereignty over it but we have sovereign right which means that all resources in the area belong to us,” Casiple pointed out.

Malacañang on Tuesday also asserted the country’s rights to Benham Rise following China’s claim that the Philippines cannot declare the resource-rich water as its territory.

“First and foremost, Benham Rise belongs to the Filipino people and the Philippine government is duty-bound
to defend and protect our sovereign and territorial right over this region,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a news conference. “Other countries can exercise innocent passage and territorial navigation. But they are disallowed to stay and establish any structure in the area.”

He added that the Philippines “has the responsibility to oversee and regulate the sailing ships of other countries that pass through the waters around Benham Rise.”

Benham Rise officially became part of the Philippines in 2012 when the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf ruled that under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the undersea landmass was contiguous with the country’s continental shelf and hence, fell under its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the UN approval does not mean that the region is part of the Philippines’ territory.

Benham Rise, a 24-million-hectare undersea plateau off the coast of Aurora province, is believed to have vast natural gas deposits and mineral resources.

The Defense Department recently confirmed the presence of a Chinese survey vessel in Benham Rise but China claimed that it was just exercising its right to innocent passage.

Casiple said that China’s claim is debatable because sovereign rights allow the Philippines to patrol and stop other countries from exploiting the resources in the area.

“They (China) can pass through the area under the freedom of navigation and the right to innocent passage but they are not allowed to conduct other activities there,” he told The Manila Times.

If the Chinese vessel that was spotted in the area was just passing by, the Philippines can let go of the issue, Casiple said. However, it would be a different story if China started sending drill ships.

To protect the area from intruders, Casiple said the Defense department and the Philippines Coast Guard should send more patrol ships and drive away foreign vessels conducting activities in the area.

Senator Sonny Angara however insisted that the government must assert the country’s sovereignty over Benham Rise.

“Benham Rise is undisputedly part of Philippine territory. We have the exclusive rights to explore and exploit its natural resources,” Angara said.

He asked his fellow lawmakers to pass Senate bill 312 which calls for the creation of the Benham Rise Development Authority (BRDA) to accelerate the development of the area as a potential rich source of alternative energy, marine resources, and tourism destination.

Angara, the author of the measure, noted that the creation of BRDA will address the need for a coordinated and integrated approach in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programs that will optimize the area’s full potential.

He added that the promotion and facilitation of public and private investments in Benham Rise will spur economic development in the provinces of Aurora and Isabela.

“It’s been five years since the UN approved our territorial claim, and yet Benham Rise remains largely unexplored. There is a pressing need to scale up and sustain the scientific study and exploration of the undersea region in light of such unauthorized foreign incursion in our territory,” Angara said.

No incursion

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte shrugged off the sighting of a Chinese ship on Benham Rise, saying he was advised by Beijing that it will be sending survey ships to the area.

They have no incursion because we have an agreement,” Duterte told reporters when asked about the reported presence of Chinese surveillance ships at Benham Rise.

“Some people are just blowing it up. We previously agreed. It was a research ship. We were advised of it way ahead.”

Duterte’s comments came after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said last week that Chinese surveillance ships had been seen in Benham Rise.

“The very concerning thing is they have several service ships plying this area, staying in one area sometimes for a month as if doing nothing. But we believe they are actually surveying the seabed,” Lorenzana said.

“I have ordered the Navy that if they see this service ship this year, to start to accost them and drive them away.”

Lorenzana said China may be “looking for a place to put submarines”.


At the House of Representatives, Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list warned that the President will be committing treason if he continues to dismiss China’s “invasion” of Benham Rise.

“If the President is not sharing information with Defense Secretary Lorenzana over this apparent permission extended to the Chinese and making such arrangements without the Defense Secretary knowing, that would be tantamount to a sellout. That’s treason,” Alejano, a former Marine captain, told reporters.

Under the1987 Constitution, treason is an impeachable offense.

“The Chinese did the same on Mischief Reef, they were in Scarborough in 2012 and they are doing the same in Benham Rise. We can defend our country. We can’t keep on appeasing the Chinese and send a message that go ahead, go on bullying us in our territory because we supposedly can’t defend ourselves,” Alejano said.

“We appease them for what? For candies? Investment and loans? They do grant us that so that we can’t assert our rights,” Alejano added.

Rep. Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa City admitted that the Philippines should take a proactive stance on the matter of Benham Rise.

“The Philippines must take decisive measures to prevent China from creeping into Benham Rise since our country’s sovereignty is at stake. While military confrontation is definitely not an option in order to avoid armed conflict, passive diplomacy is also insufficient, based on China’s track record of disregarding even the UN-led recognition of our rights in the West Philippine Sea,” Biazon said in a statement.

“It’s clear that we must adopt a strategic plan on developing our capability to protect our rights over Benham Rise. The Philippines should adopt plans to establish air and seaports to serve as launch pads for units that will perform security patrols or even interdictions in the Benham Rise area,” he added.

“There is no debate that there is a mismatch between the Chinese and Philippine military, but there shouldn’t be a feeling of inferiority on the part of the Philippines in our claim to what is ours because we have international legal backing as well as existing alliances that can provide muscle against threats to our sovereignty,” Biazon said.



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  1. florendo abad on

    How Much the Chinese bought Benham Rise to Duterte…It was probably sold to him in Secret to be deposited in Chinese Bank .

  2. Isidro Galman on

    The mainstream media, the senators and congressmen will only do something about Benham Rise when it will help their pockets and political interest. When that time comes they will invoke something about the good of the ordinary folk but in reality they will not lift a finger if it is just for the ordinary Filipinos.

  3. Mr. Casiple are you out of your mind..??? Do not said we have no jurisdiction over the territorial waters of Berham Rise. It is part of our territory, aside from the 200 miles radius economic zone from the shore line as per the UN law.. You are Freak…

  4. amelita santos on

    next is benhum rise. the UNCLOS violator, lord of all illegal drug lord supplier, bully, illegal land invader, trespasser, evil, communist china is a real threat to peace and stability for the freedom of navigation and overflight in the area and they already taken our island illegally thru force and intimidation “THEY ALREADY TAKEN OUR ISLANDS FORCIBLY, ITS ALREADY AN INVASION AND AN ACT OF WAR” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. If you are a true friend in need why not just conduct a military exercise but enforce the law and what is right dismantle, demolish & remove permanently first the illegal island structures put up by the evil-bully-UNCLOS violator-communist-china !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Remember World War 1 & 2 the Filipino people fight your war and millions of our people died with your American soldiers. Do you remember!!!! Now we need you. ITS AN ACT OF WAR AND YOU ARE DOING NOTHING JUST TALKING AND PASSING BY ALL THOSE EXERCISES ARE USELESS AND BUYING TIME THE EVIL COMMUNIST CHINA ALREADY TAKEN INVADED US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ” all it takes for evil-bully-UNCLOs violator-invader-communist-china to triumph is that for good men( the U.S. the international police & Mr. Duterte to do nothing” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is a conspiracy, collusion, connivance gross disadvantageous to the Filipino people is palpable violation of our Constitution for treason and traitor ! How much did you sell the Philippines and our countrymen and your soul to the evil-lord of all illegal drug lord supplier-bully-UNCLOS violator-illegal island grabber invader-communist china !

    Si vis pacem, para bellum is a Latin adage translated as, “If you want peace, prepare for war”. Suggesting that perhaps merely being prepared for war is not enough and that it is necessary to wage war in order to deter war.

    The Philippine submitted to the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague an almost 300-year-old map of the Philippines showing the disputed Scarborough Shoal being part of Philippine territory as far back as three centuries ago.The map debunks the so-called nine-dash-line China’s 1947 has been questionable using as proof of its claim over the South China Sea. It also locates Scarborough shoal, then known as “Panacot,” also called “Panatag” by Filipinos, off the shores of Luzon, then known as Nueva Castilla. Scarborough shoal has been a source of conflict between the Philippines and China. “The 1734 Murillo Map” is authenticated and certified true and correct compared to China’s fake bogus fabricated 1947 map!

  5. It is not a rocket science — If the Fu.king China can the West Philippine Sea, the probability is that MAGNANAKAW NA SINGKIT can do the same with East Philippine Sea. How can the Philippines prevent it?

    • if you just came out of your hibernation, you should know that your magnanakaw na singit own about 50% of all business in the Philippines … technically they do not need to wage a military war as they practically own the nation already …

  6. Then what? can the country defend its rights? can the UN, or any other country do it for the phil? (All b.s. and then sleep this afternoon – snoopy experts)

    The real problem is….

    Now what is the practical solution, tell us analysts/experts, then let’s try do something about it. It will be a long way off, like what vietnam is doing, if we can just wake up from our delusions, irresponsible, juan-tamad ways.

    Nobody will help or do the defending for us in exchange for nothing. Consider it like fighting fire, but no firetrucks coming and we have to survive.

  7. It’s time our great senators and congressmen do something at the Benham rise. Don’t just let the president solely decide for it. It is our territory and we have all the rights to protect it from any invaders. Gising kayo magigiting na senador at kongresista at magkaisa para gawin ang nararapat Tama na ang mga dakdak ninyo diyan sa kongreso. We need action, action now.

  8. The Intsik is here again.Distracting the President with its platter of offerings – soft loans, aids, business investments – it keeps busy, on the unnoticed side, with making surveys of its likely next targets around the country. Will the govt allow a repeat of Scarborough Shoal at the eastern side of our land?

    • THOSE loans, aids, bi=usiness investments are part of the scheme to tame the Philippine government. The President’s making a deal with China without the knowledge of the legislature, the DFA, DND and other relevant agencies is bringing us into a TUTAlitarian regime.

  9. vagoneto rieles on

    Benham Rise, at 24.4 million hectares, is almost equal in area to all of the Philippine’s islands which total 30 million hectares or 300,000 sq/km. Given its size and its reported natural resources, this administration will have to be unbelievably stupid, or totally corrupt to parlay the assets of Benham Rise for another nebulous pledge from China.
    While on the subject of natural resources, we should also consider our population of more than 100million who are wholly dependent on these resources.
    After their gains in the Spratlys, it seems that China is clearly ‘juiced-up’ to acquire more of the Philippines. Are we seeing a trend here?

  10. Be cautious of China repeatedly sending surveying ships to this area. They are not doing it simply to update their navigation charts and geography books; it is for a purpose that they want to know exactly what the land formations are under the waves and what the area may hold in terms of resources. Ten years ago, China was not claiming virtually all of the South China Sea; now they claim it as their territory. Don’t be surprised if their claimed areas one day expand again in the future.

  11. Benham Rise is on the eastern part of the Philippines, NOT IN THE WESTERN PART in the South China Sea. So is China trying to claim this too?

    Duterte SHOULD PROTEST this latest claim of China. If he does not, he should be impeached. For him to favor China than his country, napaka walang hiya!!!

    • Ahlam Nidigong on

      You’re absolutely correct! Benham Rise lies in the Pacific Ocean, blocked by the Philiipines from the line of sight of Beijing. Now, what is the business of the chinese ships moving past the South China sea, passing over the Philippines and surveying the Eatern part of the Philippines? Baka bukas, nasa Catanduanes na sila!

  12. Kumakahol nanaman etong alejano! gumawa kayo ng batas mga ungas para maprotektahan ang territory ng bansa! hindi puro empeachment ang nasa utak nyo!!!

  13. “Philippine government is duty-bound to defend and protect our sovereign and territorial right over this region”

    If only the Philippine govt would be so eager to defend its actual territory and not some disputed under-the-sea plateau just because it may be rich in natural resources! Abu Sayyaf is just as dangerous as China and even more so. China can be negotiated with. And the Americans will always keep them at bay. But Abu Sayyaf, which has aligned itself with ISIS, cannot be dealt with by negotiations. Defend the Philippines and the Filipino people. Destroy the terrorists!