To stress the country’s ownership of the Philippine Rise, once known as Benham Rise, the national flag was “raised” on the seabed of the vast underwater plateau on Monday, Independence Day.
Nine divers commissioned by the military’s North Luzon Command laid the laminated fiberglass flag on the bottom of the ocean 57 meters below the Philippine Navy’s newest warship, BRP Davao del Sur.
NOLCOM chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tanalgo said the first “underwater flag raising” was not prompted by the recent incursion of a Chinese research ship in the area but was part of their territorial defense operations.
“With or without any foreign ship passing through Benham Rise, we really have to stake our claim here in Philippine Rise,” he said.
Executive Order No. 25, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 16, renamed the 13-million hectare underwater feature within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
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