MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed on Tuesday, May 8, that President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Benham Rise from May 15 to 16 to commemorate its renaming as the Philippine Rise.
"The President will be commemorating the renaming of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise by visiting the Philippine Rise itself, and this is on May 15 to 16," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Roque said Duterte's visit will also launch the start of scientific research in the Philippine Rise, "to be conducted by around 50 scientists."
He said Duterte will send off the 50 scientists, will also be there when he visits the Philippine Rise.
Duterte on April 26 said he will sail to the Philippine Rise to assert that this undersea territory belongs to the Philippines.
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) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.