The entry and subsequent three-month stay of Chinese survey ship in Benham Rise is a violation of the country’s territorial rights.
This is according to former national security adviser and former Parañaque congressman, Roilo Golez. He said that it was clear that Benham Rise is a Philippine territory after the United Nations affirmed the country’s claim over it in 2012.
Golez believes China has acquired vital information on the territory which could be used against the country in the future.
“The entry of the survey ship is a violation of our territory, in the same way that, kunyari, biglang may pumasokna explorers inside Laguna Lake or in Manila bay, a foreign explorer, the same. It is my belief that china spied on our territory in Benham Rise,” the former national security adviser explained.
Golez said that in case of an incident, the country can invoke the mutual defense treaty with the United States to protect its rights in Benham Rise.
He added that this option should be studied now but in careful consideration of the country’s improving relations with China under the Duterte administration.
“If something happens in Benham Rise, we can invoke that, that is a violation of our territory, that is an attack on a territory of the Philippines and we can invoke that, to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty.”
The former official also said China’s claim of innocent passage is unacceptable.
“Innocent passage as provided for in article 18 and 19 of the UNCLOS, the vessel must travel directly. It cannot stop. It can only stop because of force majeure. It can only stop because of distress. It can stop if it’s helping another ship in distress but it cannot loiter around. It must go through a direct passage,” he said.
Magdalo Partylist will push for the creation of a commission that will monitor developments in the area.
“Whether that will be a joint coast guard – naval task force or a task group under the coast watch system which is already in place right now regardless the final form will be sorted out. but at the same time the economic and regulatory aspect must be taken cared of as well,” Magdalo former representative Ace Acedillo said.
The Chinese foreign ministry has stated that the Philippines cannot claim Benham Rise as its territory even after the UNCLOS award.
It said that the country can only explore and develop natural resources in the area.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is waiting for the official explanation of the Chinese government over the incident. — Roderic Mendoza | UNTV News & Rescue
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