Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

China ships in Benham Rise ‘bit of an escalation,’ says Marcos

Bea Cupin

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

China ships in Benham Rise ‘bit of an escalation,’ says Marcos

MARCOS IN MELBOURNE. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos lead the unveiling of the marker of Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) Phase 3 Expansion during its off-site inauguration at a hotel in Melbourne, Australia on Monday, Mar. 4, 2024.

Noel Pabalate/PPA Pool

The Philippine President gets the location of Benham Rise wrong, as he says Chinese research ships would up tensions 'in the West Philippine Sea'

MELBOURNE, Australia – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday, March 6, that reports of Chinese research vessels in Benham Rise was a “clear intrusion into our Philippine maritime territory” and an incident that’s caused “great concern.”

China ships in Benham Rise ‘bit of an escalation,’ says Marcos

“I see this as absolutely unnecessary because if it is truly a research vessel then we could have come to a very simple agreement that the research vessel will ply the waters and do the research that they need to do,” said Marcos in a recorded video, responding to media inquiries while in Melbourne on Wednesday, March 6.

The Philippine President and fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are in Australia for the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. Marcos flew out of Melbourne late Wednesday.

“There is a suspicion that they are not only research vessels so, again, this is a bit of an escalation of the tension that is present in the West Philippines Sea,” he added, confusing different areas of the Philippines.

Benham Rise is located at the Philippine eastern seaboard facing the Pacific Ocean – while in the opposite is the West Philippine Sea which is part of the South China Sea.

Benham Rise, since renamed the Philippine Rise, is an underwater plateau located near Aurora province and considered part of the Philippines’ continental shelf. The 13 million hectare plateau under water is larger even than Luzon, the country’s biggest island.

It is believed to be rich in natural gases and other resources. In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Contintental Shelf (UNCLCS) confirmed Benham Rise.

Marcos, surprisingly, would not be the first president to mix up the two areas. His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, also mixed up Benham Rise with issues in the West Philippine Sea.

Ironically, Duterte’s confusion then also stemmed from reports that a Chinese survey ship had been monitored in Benham Rise back in 2017.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, located west of the Philippines. The claim is contradictory to a 2016 Arbitral Ruling, which Beijing rejects. It has not claimed Benham Rise thus far. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.