MANILA, Philippines — A leader of the country’s opposition party on Thursday criticized China for reportedly naming some underwater features of Benham Rise, saying such right only belongs to the Philippines as the territory is part of its extended continental shelf.
“We have the right to name our children because we have duties toward them, including protecting them. That’s why, similarly, we can’t simply be dismissive about China’s naming of five seamounts within the Philippine Rise,” said former Quezon representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, the Liberal Party (LP)’s vice president for external affairs.
“Philippine Rise is within our territory and we should be the one to label it and parts of it,” he added.
Tañada argued that if names are not so important, then resident Duterte would not have bothered to issue Executive Order No. 25 to rename Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
“Giving it a label carrying the name of the country emphasizes Philippine sovereign right and jurisdiction over the area. That’s how important a name is,” the LP leader said.
The five names submitted by Beijing in 2014 and 2016 have been approved by the International Hydrographic Organization, “which means that they are now internationally recognized,” according to Tañada.
“China is not exactly the most trustworthy neighbor. Downplaying this move of naming seamounts could just surprise us one day that they have built structures on them, like what they did to other territories under dispute in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.