Duterte says he will sail to Benham Rise next week
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will sail next week to Benham Rise, also known as the Philippine Rise, to assert that this undersea territory belongs to the Philippines.
"Next week I'm going to sail, set sail. I'm going to Benham Rise, and I'm going to make a statement there that nobody but nobody owns this place, including the continental shelf, the underground landmass that extends under the sea," Duterte said on Thursday, April 26.
"And if it extends to San Francisco Bay, San Francisco Bay is a property of the Republic of the Philippines," Duterte said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Duterte made these remarks during the 102nd Annual Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.
He is now in Singapore to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
Duterte talked about Benham Rise months after his government was criticized for allowing China to conduct maritime research there.
The criticism stems from China's refusal to recognize the Philippines' rights over another part of the country, the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Letting China into Benham Rise: History lessons for Duterte and Cayetano)
Before he won the presidency, Duterte also claimed he will ride a jet ski to the Spratlys to assert his country's rights in the West Philippine Sea.
He never did. – Rappler.com