Rafael Alunan answers in behalf of Duterte following criticism over Benham Rise

President Duterte has been drawing flak on social media following his non-aggressive stance against Chinese incursion in Benham Rise.

Here’s what Duterte told GMA News when asked for comment on Chinese ships in Benham Rise.

“They’ll not do it at this time. Magugulo iyan. America wants to be the fighter. Pupunta mga barko barko doon. Ang Amerika naghihintay lang tayo magulo bakit akko gugulo doon. I cannot match the might of China.”

Instead, Duterte wants the military to confront the Chinese there in a friendly manner.

“My order to the military, tell them straight it’s ours and say it in friendship.”

Critics of Duterte did not like what they’ve heard from the President. Let us visit their comments on Facebook.

Ronilo Ricohermoso Perlas wrote: “I am just wondering.?..bkit pag China na..parang “BAHAG BUNTOT”_ni tatay digong…. Natakot makipagyera sa China….pero kung murahin US antapang…di ko makuha logic in tatay ahh….I need interpreter here…..”

Atty Jesus Falcis, another Duterte critic wrote: “We are not claiming Benham Rise. We OWN it – as approved already by the United Nations.

And we own it EXCLUSIVELY or only for ourselves. You – China – can’t go there and conduct surveys or explorations without our consent.

We own Benham Rise NOT AS TERRITORY because we never claimed it was land or an island capable of human habitation (in line with the international law on the sea or UNCLOS).

We own Benham Rise AS PART OF the Philippines’ CONTINENTAL SHELF, which is a maritime and submarine right granted by UNCLOS as approved by the United Nations when we filed our claim.
So no, China, you still can’t conduct survey and exploration without our permission in OUR EXCLUSIVE maritime and submarine features – such as Benham Rise, a continental shelf.”

Meanwhile, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III shared the position of SC Associate Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Facebook to clarify the issue about Benham Rise and end the debate who really own that rich underwater territory in the Pacific.

I’m posting here the position of Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Benham Rise. Thank you for the clarification:

“Benham rise is not part of Philippine national territory because we do not have sovereignty over Benham Rise. However, we have sovereign rights (less than sovereignty) over Benham Rise because we have exclusive right to explore and exploit the oil, gas and other mineral resources in Benham Rise which has been confirmed by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf as part of the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines.

Other states, like China, have the right to conduct in Benham rise (1) fishery research because the fish in the ECS belongs to mankind; (2) surveys on water salinity and water currents because the water column in the ECS belongs to mankind; and (3) depth soundings for navigational purposes because there is freedom of navigation in the ECS.

If the Chinese vessels were looking for submarine passages and parking spaces, that would be part of freedom of navigation and the Philippines has no reason to complain.

If the Chinese vessels were conducting seismic surveys to look for oil, gas and minerals, then they could not do that because UNLCOS has reserved the oil, gas and minerals in the ECS to the Philippines.”

As of this writing, Raffy Alunan’s post has gathered 705 shares, 1,217 reactions and 45 comments on Facebook.

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