MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday, March 10, said it sent a note verbale to the Chinese embassy to clarify the reported presence of a Chinese survey ship near Benham Rise.
Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau off the coast of Aurora. The Philippines fought for and won Benham Rise before the United Nations in 2012. (READ: Filipinos conquer new territory: Benham Rise)
“The Philippines has expressed concern about the reported presence of a Chinese ship in Benham Rise, which has been recognized by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf as Philippine waters,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement.
“The Philippines has sent a note to the Chinese embassy seeking clarification on this,” Jose added.
Jose clarified that the note was not a protest, and that “generally, a note verbale is the medium of communication between foreign ministries and embassies.”
Malacañang on Friday also aired its concern over the presence of a Chinese ship near Benham Rise.
These statements came after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday, March 9, said a Chinese survey ship was seen plying the waters of Benham Rise for around 3 months.
“I ordered the Navy that if they see this service ship this year, start to accost them and drive them away from the eastern side of the Philippines,” Lorenzana said.
Benham Rise is part of the Pacific Ocean, not the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which is the subject of a decades-long dispute between Manila and Beijing. – Rappler.com
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