Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III sees no problem with China’s move of naming five undersea features in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) since he believes that “no one has a monopoly of the power or right” to give label to any features on the earth, the Senator said on Wednesday in an ambush interview.
The Senate President said that the Philippines has no “exclusive right” to name any features in the disputed sea even within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and stressed that the matter is different from the issue of sovereign rights.
“Without reading the Convention, or the treaty or the rules governing the naming, commonsense tell me that no one has a monopoly of the power or the right to name features on earth. Wala naman pong ganun [There’s no such thing],” Pimentel said.
“It is only to name, iba naman yung [It is different from] exercising sovereign rights. Even sovereign rights does not mean sovereignty, mga ganun [like that] …” he added.
He pointed out that Benham rise was originally named after American Admiral Andrew Ellicot Kennedy Benham by American surveyors who were the discoverers of the said feature.
“First of all, I will tell you, Benham Rise, who named it, it’s us, right? Did we get angry? Is that an American name? Did we get mad? So that’s it, Chinese name, we are allergic?
“I am not bothered. Basahin yung [read the] rules, who can propose names, and who can oppose the proposal? If there is such a procedure, let’s avail the procedure. What’s the point?” Pimentel said.
The statement of Pimentel came after Malacañang denounced the reported move of China to name at least five undersea features in the Philippine Rise.
“We object and do not recognize the Chinese names given to some undersea features in the Philippine Rise,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement sent to media.
The issue arose following the statement of Director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Dr. Jay Batongbacal on social media that the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) already approved in 2017 the names proposed by China.