President Rodrigo Duterte
The government stands firm that the Benham Rise is a territory of the Philippines and it can only allow innocent passage in the area but disallow stay and establishment of any structure.
This is based on the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.
However, on the report of the alleged incursion of some Chinese survey ships near Benham Rise last year, Malacañang insists that it will still pursue diplomatics talks with China on the issue.
“Having said that thing about Benham Rise, we will continue to pursue diplomatic talks with the other party,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
Abella also clarified that President Duterte has no directives for the government to build structures in Benham Rise, however, the President wants to strengthen the military’s capacity in patrolling Philippine territory.
“Regarding building any structures, as far as any resolutions were made, there were none, however the President did agree that we should improve our capabilities of enforcing our rights regarding airspace, and territorial waters,” Abella said.
President Duterte allayed concerns on the alleged incursion of Chinese ships in Benham Rise.
The President also said he was given prior information way before the sail of the Chinese ships in the area.
“No, may agreement kami (No, we have an agreement). I even invited them to the shores of the Philippines, pinapalaki lang yan (it’s being blown out of proportion). I don’t know, because we previously approved that they can, research naman. Ininvite ko nga ang Russia battleships nila (I even invited their Russias battleships). We were advised of it way ahead but maybe we have the right to ask, ‘Kumusta, anong sadya mo rito (Hello, what brings you here)?’ Parang ganun lang (Just something like that),” the President said. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue
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