Palace calls for calm: Siopao, mami have Chinese names too
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said people should not be "alarmist" about China naming undersea features in Philippine waters.
Presidential Photo/Joey Dalumpines
Palace calls for calm: Siopao, mami have Chinese names too
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - February 15, 2018 - 3:30pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines does not see bad faith in China's naming of five features in an undersea plateau just off the eastern Luzon seaboard believed to host vast reserves of natural resources, the Palace said on Thursday. 
 
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that there was no controversy in the Philippine Rise, or Benham Rise, and stressed that the country would still give the five features Philippine names.
 
He also called on people not to be "alarmist" about the issue as food and objects having Chinese names does not mean that Beijing owns them.
 
"We are not attributing any bad faith to China," Roque said in a press briefing in the Palace, stressing that Beijing should respect the Philippines, too, if it gives the features its own names.
 
In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Extended Continental Shelf approved the Philippine claim to the Philippine Rise, a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau off the coast of Aurora province in Luzon believed to be holding vast deposits of gas and natural resources. 
 
After approving foreign scientific studies in the area, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the stoppage of such activities and allowed only Filipino teams to research there. 
 
However, the order came two days after the team from China left the area, according to Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo), a member of the House opposition.
 
Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert from the University of the Philippines, said on Monday that China was successfully able to name five Philippine Rise features last year after its submission to the International Hydrographic Organization. 
 
The named features were the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts located some nautical miles east of Cagayan, Haidonquing Seamount further east at 190 nautical miles and the Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount that form the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself, according to the maritime expert. 
 
He added that three of the five were “discovered” in 2004 by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office, which submitted the names in 2014.
 
The two remaining features were found by the same survey ship, but their names were forwarded in 2016 by China Ocean Minerals R&D Association. 
 
In a radio interview early on Thursday, Roque said that the country has sovereign rights in the area and other states recognized this.  “Because there is no dispute over this, no country is staking a claim to this area, everybody recognizes that the Philippines has rights on this,” Roque said.
 
The presidential spokesman said that Philippines did not care about American and Chinese-named features in the area, emphasizing that Manila would name them.
 
He also explained that the Philippines was not informed of the Chinese submission as the country is not part of the UN body tasked to approve proposed names. He added that Manila had already applied to be part of the organization.
 
"For me, we should not be too alarmist on this because China has given names to many things. Siopao, mami, all these were named by the Chinese. Hototay soup, but this did not mean that they owned these," Roque said in Filipino.

BENHAM RISE PHILIPPINE RISE
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