Posts Tagged ‘Benham Rise’

Philippines: Draft Federal Constitution Charter Asserts Sovereignty over Philippine Rise

July 3, 2018
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Establishing clear and distinct sovereignty over the country’s territory was among the highlights of the proposed federal Constitution.

The 22-member consultative committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution has approved the final draft of the proposed Charter, which will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Patricia Lourdes Viray (

July 3, 2018 – 12:40pm

One noticeable revision in the Article I (National Territory) of the Constitution is the inclusion of the Benham or Philippine Rise in the article.

The Philippine Rise is a 13-million hectare underwater plateau off the coast of Aurora. The region has never been subject to any maritime boundary disputes and claims.

Section 2, Article 1 of the draft federal Constitution states that:

The Philippines has sovereign rights over that maritime expanse beyond its territorial sea to the extend reserved to it by international law, as well as over its extended continental shelf, including the Philippine Rise. Its citizens shall enjoy the right to all resources within these areas.

The draft Constitution also asserts the Philippines’ sovereignty over territories belonging to the country through historic right.

Section 1, Article 1 of the draft Charter states:

The Philippines has sovereignty over its territory, consisting of the islands ans waters encompassed by its archipelagic baselines, its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the continental shelf, and its airspace. It has sovereignty over islands and features outside its archipelagic baselines pursuant to the laws of the Federal Republic, the law of nations and the judgments of competent international courts or tribunals. It likewise has sovereignty over other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title.

In 2012, the United Nations on the Limits of the Continental Shelf granted the submission of the Philippines to include Benham Rise as part of its extended continental shelf.

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Chinese coast guard vessels are frequently seen near the Philippines

Earlier this year, Duterte ordered the halt of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists in the undersea region to prioritize Filipino scientists conducting research in the region.

The order, however, came after China finished its marine scientific research in the area.

While Duterte barred foreign exploration in Benham Rise, the Philippine lost its bid to reverse the approval of Chinese proposals to name undersea features as Haidongqing Seamount, Jinghao Seamount, Tianbao Seamount, Jujiu Seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.

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Philippines: President Duterte “destabilizing himself,” with China remarks — “Duterte’s statement betrays his paranoia about the state of affairs in his own country.”

May 16, 2018
Duterte’s son Sebastian and special assistant Bong Go rode a jet ski through the waters of Casiguran Bay in Aurora in an attempt to assert the country’s claim over Philippine Rise. Casiguran Bay is only the jumpoff point to Philippine Rise but is still far away from the undersea region itself.
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Patricia Lourdes Viray ( – May 16, 2018 – 12:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that China would not allow him to be ousted, Sen. Antonio Trillanes reminded the president that no one is trying to kick him out.

“No one is trying to kick him out; he is doing the destabilizing all by himself,” Trillanes said in a statement released Wednesday.

Trillanes also expressed disbelief over Duterte’s claims that China would protect the Philippines in case a conflict broke out in the region.

RELATED: Duterte: China has assured me it will not allow Philippines to be destroyed

Duterte made the statement on Tuesday during the sendoff ceremony for the Filipino scientists who would conduct a research in Benham or Philippine Rise.

“The assurances of [President] Xi Jinping were very encouraging. Eh, they are there. ‘We will not allow you to be taken out from your office, and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,'” Duterte said, quoting Xi.

The president also said that his Chinese counterpart assured him that Beijing would support Manila in case a conflict broke out in the region.

“China will never allow the Philippines to be destroyed. ‘We will be there if you need us,'” Duterte said.

Trillanes said that he does not believe Beijing would say this as “they know that they don’t have the power to stop any leadership change from happening.”

“But, more importantly, Duterte’s statement betrays his paranoia about the state of affairs in his own country,” the senator added.

Aside from sending off an all-Filipino team to Philippine Rise, Duterte also led the commemoration of the first anniversary of the renaming of the underwater plateau.

In his speech, Duterte also insisted that the Philippines has not given up its sovereignty rights over certain areas in the West Philippine Sea.

RELATED: Jet ski cruise through Philippine Rise moves closer to shore

Duterte’s son Sebastian and special assistant Bong Go rode a jet ski through the waters of Casiguran Bay in Aurora in an attempt to assert the country’s claim over Philippine Rise. Casiguran Bay is only the jumpoff point to Philippine Rise but is still far away from the undersea region itself.

Benham or Philippine Rise, located in the eastern seaboard, is also uncontested contrary to the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, where Beijing has installed missile systems and military facilities.



Philippines: A creeping Chinese invasion?

May 14, 2018

China’s sneaky introduction of antiship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and military planes in the artificial island that it built in a territory that is well within the 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone of the Philippines has rattled nerves among defense and military
officials of our country.

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This, despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise to President Duterte that China will not militarize the facility it constructed on the island that is part of the Panganiban Reef. Under the July 2016 ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over this area that we call the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea].

Consider, too, that China has given Chinese names to five undersea features in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), which is indisputably in Philippine territory. Could this be a prelude to a future claim on this area?

These developments heighten a growing xenophobia among Filipinos about the unabated influx of Chinese nationals. There is palpable wariness about a silent infiltration of the country by lawless and undesirable Chinese nationals. There are also disconcerting talks about thousands of Chinese troops furtively dispersed throughout the country, and the continuing mysterious entry of more Chinese, also suspected as military infiltrators. If true, are they here for some sinister reasons?

There are also intriguing speculations about large numbers of Chinese in Metro Manila who do not interact with the locals, live in places exclusive only to them, are provided with transport vehicles and eat in dining places operated by
fellow Chinese.

Only recently, an impudent Chinese chef named Wang Yongbin mauled Filipino waitress Rutchel Taer just because she dared eat a piece of chicharon. It turns out that Wang is an undocumented alien who has no passport or work permit and does not speak English or Filipino.

Have we now become a haven for illegal Chinese entrants? Witness the discovery in 2016 of 1,316 Chinese nationals working without permits in a gambling establishment set up by a Chinese casino operator in Clark, Pampanga. The case exploded into a shameful scandal when two immigration officials allegedly extorted P50 million from the
operator for the release of the detained aliens.

To stay covert, they have now fanned out to the provinces. Last January, authorities nabbed 153 Chinese and Taiwanese suspects in Ilocos Sur and Las Piñas. They were engaged in telecom fraud, preying on rich people in mainland China, posing as police officers, prosecutors and judges investigating the victims for some alleged crimes. To avoid charges, the victims were told to transfer huge amounts to certain bank accounts. In the same month, 81 more were arrested in Makati for violating immigration laws. Several turned out to be wanted in China.

Last month, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested four Chinese operating a clandestine shabu lab in Batangas. Arrests were also made in Cavite.

In disputed maritime areas, in artificial islands and in many other places in our country, it looks like we will have to contend with this creeping Chinese invasion.

So don’t be shocked if one day, Xi Jinping jet-skis his way to the Pasig River to plant the
Chinese flag in Malacañang!

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Philippines: Career diplomats want Cayetano, aides to resign — Kuwait row has unmasked the gross incompetence

May 2, 2018


“The diplomatic row between the Philippines and Kuwait has unmasked the gross incompetence of DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his top aides who are now a liability to the Duterte administration,” the career officers said in the letter obtained by The STAR.

AFP/Fabrice Coffrini, File


Career diplomats want Cayetano, aides to resign
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) – May 2, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Career officers at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are calling for the resignation of Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his appointees for gross incompetence that led to the diplomatic standoff with Kuwait.

Although the officers did not refer to the Union of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS) as the organization of career diplomats behind the letter, DFA officials learned it was sent to President Duterte asking for the resignation of Cayetano and his appointees in the department.

“The diplomatic row between the Philippines and Kuwait has unmasked the gross incompetence of DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his top aides who are now a liability to the Duterte administration,” the career officers said in the letter obtained by The STAR.

They pointed out the President is the chief architect of Philippine foreign policy and engages in high stakes diplomacy with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs bridging the gap with the international community.

“Having no vision on foreign policy, Cayetano and his top aides miscalculated Kuwaiti reaction to the controversial rescue missions of distressed Filipino housemaids. This blunder resulted in the expulsion of our Ambassador to Kuwait, Rene (Renato) Villa, who was declared persona non grata by the host government,” the officers said.

The career officers called for the resignation of Cayetano and his appointees in the foreign service “to spare the Philippines from further diplomatic embarrassments.”

“Cayetano’s amateurism and inexperience threaten to jeopardize the welfare of 230,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait,” they said.

“It is a widespread belief that the Kuwaitis will not resume talks with the Philippines as long as Cayetano is the DFA secretary,” they said.

When Cayetano was appointed to the DFA almost a year ago, the officers said there was a perception that his youth would inject fresh ideas to Philippine foreign policy.

But they said many were disappointed as Cayetano’s lack of foresight and wisdom are also glaring on other foreign policy issues such as the West Philippine Sea, withdrawal of International Criminal Court membership, rejection of European Union (EU) aid and UN human rights.

The career officers also mentioned DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, a non-career official, as another “liability” to the Duterte administration.

Prior to her appointment to the DFA, Arriola had no experience whatsoever in dealing with Filipino migrant workers, they said.

The officials said Arriola’s only visible credential is her close ties with Cayetano.

“Yet Arriola was the one who authorized the dispatch of rapid response teams (RRT) to Kuwait whose marching orders were to conduct more rescue of distressed Filipino housemaids, take videos of the rescue and upload them in FB (Facebook) for the whole world to see.”

They said Arriola was apparently ignorant of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations that she even went to Kuwait twice to personally instruct the rescue teams to intensify their operations in an attempt to show that Cayetano is on the side of the Filipino workers.

They claimed Arriola had flunked the Foreign Service Officers examinations.

“(She has) no moral ascendancy over career officers whom she treated with contempt, wanting to gain publicity to advance the sluggish political career of Cayetano,” they said.

The officials said the RRT was an ill-advised move to rescue Filipino workers in Kuwait since it could only be made in war-torn countries with no functioning government.

“Derisively referred to as “special forces“ by expats in Kuwait, Arriola’s RRT brought havoc to Philippine-Kuwait ties. Its blatant interference on its internal affairs was the main reason cited by the Kuwaitis in the expulsion of Ambassador Villa,” they said.

Duterte in February had imposed a prohibition on workers heading to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in the Gulf state.

The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities last week ordered Villa to leave the country over videos of Philippine embassy staff helping workers in Kuwait flee allegedly abusive employers.

The Philippines, through Cayetano, has apologized for the incident but insisted that the rescue was a “rightful exercise” of its duty to protect its citizens.

The two nations had been negotiating a labor deal that Philippine officials said could result in the lifting of the ban, but the recent escalation in tensions has put an agreement in doubt.

The rescue in Kuwait also highlighted the supposed rift between Cayetano and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The trouble between Cayetano and Bello reportedly stemmed from the course of action each respectively took or recommended to the President to resolve the crisis affecting Filipino workers in Kuwait.

Cayetano initiated the rescue of the distressed Filipino workers while Bello suggested another approach.

Sources said Villa will be arriving today from Kuwait.

Toning down

Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah gave his assurance that Kuwait is keen on maintaining the safety and rights of all expatriates, including the Filipino community, within the labor laws of the country.

Al-Jarallah added that he appreciated the contributions of the Filipino community, over 200,000 of whom are working in various sectors in Kuwait.

Al-Jarallah expressed his optimism that the historic friendship between the two countries “could help overcome the exceptional circumstance” and that Kuwait was looking forward to working with the Philippines to honor mutual interest.

Cayetano welcomed the statements of Al-Jarallah conveying his government’s readiness to work with Manila to address the concerns of Filipino workers there.

“This gesture on the part of Kuwait, a country with which we have a shared history and strong people-to-people ties, will allow us to move forward and hurdle the challenges we face,” Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano said the Philippines acknowledged the assurances of Kuwait in protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of Filipinos working there.

“This is a shared goal that should be pursued with willingness to understand and respect where each side is coming from,” he added.

‘Soft landing’

Duterte, for his part, adopted a “soft landing” approach to the diplomatic row with Kuwait.

Duterte said he would not quarrel with the Kuwaiti government because “much is at stake.”

The President said he would not talk too much about the controversy because talks are ongoing but he did not elaborate.

“I won’t attack because talks are going on. At the minimum, I want them (workers) to come home. I will find money,” Duterte said.

“We will mobilize continuously until everyone who wants out of there would come home… So I am adopting a soft landing approach. I won’t talk much because so much is at stake,” he added.

Last week, Duterte urged Filipino workers in Kuwait to come home and vowed to provide for their needs. On Sunday, the President said he has made the deployment ban permanent but the labor department clarified later that the sending of workers might resume once an agreement protecting workers is signed.

Duterte said his administration is exerting all efforts to boost the level of protection of migrant workers, especially those in Kuwait.  – With Alexis Romero, Marvin Sy



Philippines loses bid to void Chinese names for Benham Rise — Creeping Sinicization

April 30, 2018

Chinese names will become commonplace in Philippine waters due to the Duterte administration…

Philippines loses bid to void Chinese names for Benham Rise features

Camille Diola ( – April 30, 2018 – 9:36am

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s recent protest over China’s naming of five features in Philippines-controlled underwater region Benham Rise came too late after years of inaction.

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sail this week in hopes of making a statement that the Philippines “owns” the underwater ridge, now called Philippine Rise. The gesture, however, comes after an international body confirmed Chinese names for features in the Philippines’ maritime backyard.

A NAMRIA map showing undersea region Benham Rise, which was recently renamed Philippine Rise.

In a letter to an overseas office of the Department of Foreign Affairs on March 6, 2018 seen by, the International Hydrographic Organization refused to reverse the approval of Chinese proposals to name undersea features Haidongqing Seamount, Jinghao Seamount, Tianbao Seamount, Jujiu Seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.

The letter was in response to the Philippine delegation to UNESCO’s request dated February 28, 2018 to nullify the names. The Philippines argued that it had jurisdiction over the features under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS.

The country also argued that China conducted an underwater survey in Benham Rise in 2004 that led to the naming of the features without the Philippines’ consent.

Hans Werner Schenke, chair of the IHO’s Sub-committee on Undersea Feature Names or SCUFN, was quick to point out that UNCLOS has “legally no explicit effect with regard to the naming of undersea features in EEZs.”

China’s proposals followed all guidelines and rules of his office, Schenke explained. To grant the Philippines’ request after the names have been adopted would give precedence to other possible revisions based on different interpretations.

Even if one country’s naming of features in other countries’ EEZs does not signify its rights over them, the Philippines lost the chance to make more relevant parts of its own maritime domain.

A fruitless attempt and an off chance

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal was the first to reveal China’s plan to name five features in Benham earlier this year. He was technical advisor when the Philippines petitioned a UN-backed body in 2009 to grant an extension of its continental shelf in the Benham Rise region. The country was granted the award in 2012.

Batongbacal already warned that a complaint against Beijing’s move would possibly be futile since the naming process had already concluded.

“It may be a bit embarrassing that we are too late the hero and we are objecting all of a sudden… it’s going to be awkward and in a way, already out of order,” Batongbacal told radio dzMM in February.

He was right. In the response to the DFA office in March, IHO subcommittee chair Schenke noted the peculiarity of the Philippines’ request.

While there were past submissions which affected features within other countries’ EEZs, “this is the first time ever that the SCUFN received this sort of objection of a country which claims authority about the affected EEZ,” Schenke wrote.


Composite image of the response of the International Hydrographic Organization’s Sub-committee on Undersea Feature Names to the Philippines’ request dated Feb. 28, 2018 to nullify Chinese names of five features in Benham Rise. IHO docs via

Another reason the DFA gave cited the subcommittee’s past rejections of naming proposals. It argued that the Chinese naming of the seamounts was “politically sensitive… given the complex geo-political situation,” referring to the longstanding dispute between Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea.

This reasoning was also rebuffed.

For Schenke and other members of the naming authority, terms used by China had “no political sensitivity at all.” Based on past documents, Haidongqing Seamount was named after a falcon symbolic to the Chinese. Jinghao Seamount and Tianbao Seamount, meanwhile, express Chinese aspirations for an ideal life and stability, respectively.

This leaves the Philippines with one remaining move to reverse the names given to features under its care.

“The only option for nullification… would be a submission of China to withdraw from their proposed naming,” the subcommittee said. This entails diplomatic measures for Manila to ask Beijing to withdraw the names.

It sounds easier than in practice since the Asian giant is unlikely to pull away at the bidding of its smaller maritime rival. Earlier this year Beijing insisted that it followed the procedure in giving names to the underwater mountains.

The government sat on it

Even before the granting of the Philippines’ extended continental shelf within Benham Rise in 2012, government instruments already conducted a complete bathymetric survey of Benham Rise. This measured and documented the depth and shape of the seabed.

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority was the lead agency for such efforts, contributing significantly to an existing public databank from past surveys of the undersea region.

“Majority of the area in the Philippine Rise was covered by [our teams],” said Commodore Jacinto Cablayan, director of hydrography at NAMRIA, in a televised interview with ANC’s “Future Perfect” in February.

Cablayan said that since his office had already covered the extent of Benham’s bathymetry, the only surveys left to do in the area are those with scientific and economic aims.

The government then already had the data it needed about the sea plateau but from 2012 to 2017—spanning the Aquino and Duterte administrations—the Philippines failed to propose a single name before the IHO’s SCUFN.

“There is no submission,” Cablayan said in Filipino, admitting that his office could have made the move. “Maybe we were just a bit occupied.”

“Because we do all the works, we do the maintenance of the ship, we do navigation, we do survey. Maybe we were focused on that,” he told ANC.

Batongbacal, in a separate interview with the STAR in February, said state leadership “sat on the recommendations.” NAMRIA, for one, already had proposals drafted to name the features after Philippines trees and birds.


UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Jay Batongbacal attends the Senate Committee hearing on State of Maritime Research by Filipino Scientists and Exploration Studies on the Benham Rise and the West Philippine Sea at the Senate on Feb. 26, 2018. STAR/Geremy Pintolo, file

“The technical people knew about the naming proposals and made recommendations for action. Leadership sat on them as well, Batongbacal said.

Silver lining

China may have beaten the Philippines in christening five Benham Rise features but the complaint sent to the IHO yielded at least one seemingly inadvertent benefit.

Schenke, the chair of the IHO naming subcommittee SCUFN, offered to require consultations with the Philippines should any country wish to name features located within its EEZ and extended continental shelf in the future.

The SCUFN also vowed to report the issue at its next meeting in October to explore possible improvements to naming guidelines and procedures.





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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.



Philippines eyes joint exploration deal with China in South China Sea within months

April 9, 2018


MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines is looking to seal a pact with China within a few months to jointly explore for oil and gas in a part of the busy South China Sea waterway claimed by both countries, a Philippine official said on Monday.

In February, the two countries agreed to set up a special panel to work out how to jointly explore for offshore oil and gas in areas both sides claim, without needing to address the touchy issue of sovereignty.

“We’re trying to see if we can achieve an agreement, hopefully within the next couple of months,” Jose Santiago Santa Romana, Philippine ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, told a news conference held on China’s island province of Hainan.

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Chinese coast guard vessels are frequently seen near the Philippines

There is political willingness to land a deal, but both parties could take as much time as needed to ensure the goals are met, Santa Romana said at the event, aired live on Facebook, adding that the Philippines aimed to boost its energy security.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, a key trade route with areas believed to hold large quantities of oil and natural gas. Parts of it are subject to competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, besides the Philippines.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday flew to China for the Boao Forum for Asia, and will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.

Last month, the Philippines identified two areas in the South China Sea where joint exploration for oil and gas may be undertaken with China.

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China’s military bases near the Philippines

But any potential deals between Manila and Beijing should be agreed with a company and not the Chinese government, the presidential spokesman said.

The idea of joint development dates from 1986, but disputes and the sovereignty issue have kept it from materializing.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that portions of the contested areas were part of the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, and Manila had sovereign rights to resources there. China refuses to recognize the ruling.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


Most Philippine People Don’t Trust China — Filipinos see a “greedy foreign power” — “a fox disguised in sheep’s clothing.”

March 13, 2018

By Atty. Joey D. Lina

Former Senator

Manila Bulletin

In a recentepisode of DZMM’s teleradyo program, Magpayo Nga Kayo (9:30 – 10:30 am, Saturdays), which I co-host with famed broadcaster May Valle Ceniza, comments from our ardent followers confirmed what the latest SWS survey said: Most Filipinos trust the United States so much more than they do China.

In fact, all of the program’s listeners and viewers who called, sent text messages, or posted comments on Facebook expressed their distrust of China. I found their reactions very revealing, especially because not a single one of them had a kind word for China despite the persistent stance of administration officials to pursue and nurture lasting friendship with our giant neighbor.

It seems all the exchange of friendly gestures and reassuring rhetoric between the governments of the Philippines and China have done little to significantly improve the low level of trust which typical Filipinos have for the Chinese government.

The latest Social Weather Stations survey taken in Decembe, 2017,  showed Filipinos have much trust for the United States, Canada, and Japan. Although SWS said the net trust rating for China “rose by one grade from poor to neutral for China, at +7 (38% much trust, 31% little trust) in December, 2017,” it was a far cry from the rating for US which “stayed very good at +68 (75% much trust, 7% little trust) in December, 2017.” In the same period, Canada “rose by one grade from good to very good at +55 (65% much trust, 10% little trust), while Japan also rose from good to very good, “at a record high +54 (65% much trust, 11% little trust).”

Much of the reasons for Filipinos’ distrust of China focused mainly on its incursions into the West Philippine Sea and also on perceived attempts, that came to light in recent months, of China to creep into Benham Rise and gather sensitive security information in it, raising fears it would eventually threaten the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the area.

Gauging by the feedback from the DZMM audience, it has become apparent that the bullying actuations over the years of China have taken their toll on most Filipinos’ perception of it. It is now widely believed that the incursions into Philippine territorial waters have firmed up the impression that China is a “greedy foreign power” which Filipinos have to be wary of because of the perception that its presently friendly stance toward the Philippines is merely that of “a fox disguised in sheep’s clothing.”

Other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia which are at odds with China’s expansionism are also wary. Though Chinese economic assistance to Asean countries is welcome, analysts are one in their view that “territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea have cast our giant neighbor as an arrogant bully.”

And when President Duterte, shortly after he assumed power in 2016, floated the idea of a probable alliance with China while talking of terminating military ties with the US, security analysts viewed such idea as “unthinkable” for most Filipinos mainly due to cultural, social, and ideological reasons.

Despite historical abuses and excesses, such as the Balangiga massacre committed by US forces in the past, Filipinos have learned to trust Americans – the primary reason why there are about 3.5 million Filipino-Americans in the US pursuing or living the American Dream.

Indeed, while almost every Filipino has a relative or close friend residing in the US, the same cannot be said of China even with its close proximity. Given a choice, the typical Filipino would prefer to visit or stay in the US than in China.

It really boils down to trust. Despite all the positive developments that have transpired between the Philippines and China since President Duterte took over the reins of government, Filipinos are still wary. And it certainly doesn’t help to hear the President joking that our country ought to become a “province” of China. Many regard it as a cruel joke and an insult to the heroic struggles of our forefathers against foreign invaders.

It also doesn’t help learning of a report, published in China’s state-owned Global Times, that the head of Xiamen University’s Southeast Asian Studies Center, Zhuang Guotu, has said that “loans are usually accompanied by repayment agreements, which use certain natural resources as collateral.” The report has ignited fears that natural resources in the Philippines could be mortgaged to fund infrastructure projects.

But it’s good that the Chinese Foreign Ministry dispelled the report when it said: “China has never asked and will never ask relevant countries to use natural resources as collateral in loan agreements. In this vein, our assistance and support to the Philippines are provided with no strings attached.”

With the clarification, China ought to be forever bound by its statement, assuming the Chinese government can now be trusted. But whatever its worth, the statement can go a long way in developing trust. And we need more similar statements to address the many worries of Filipinos concerning China. And, needless to say, China must show that it stands by its commitments. Only then can trust be strengthened; only with trust can friendship blossom.



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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


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Chinese bases near the Philippines

Philippines Struggles To Cope With China’s “Duplicitous Ways” in South China Sea, Benham Rise

March 7, 2018

GOTCHA – Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) – March 7, 2018 – 12:00am

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

The issues of the West and East Philippine Seas are joined, as far as China is concerned. As polls show, Filipinos distrust China because of its duplicitous ways. In Benham Rise east of Luzon, China conducted natural resource and military explorations without Manila’s consent. It rejected Manila’s reasonable condition of including Filipino scientists in its researches. After sneakily giving Chinese names to five undersea peaks it now wants to name 50 or so other features. It claims to a right to conduct marine scientific research (MSR) under international law.

In the West Philippine Sea, China has done worse. It grabbed the traditional Filipino fishing ground Scarborough Shoal 123 miles off Zambales, within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone but 700 miles from China’s nearest coast and beyond its own EEZ. It has concreted seven reefs and shoals in the Philippine EEZ into artificial island fortresses. It also claims reefs and rocks closer to the Philippines by imagining to be the first to name them.

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio leads patriotic Filipinos in disputing Beijing’s illegal claims and activities. He helped in Manila’s victorious arbitration in The Hague against China’s maritime expansionism. He also debunked through ancient maps and documents Beijing’s farcical “historical rights” to the South China (West Philippine) Sea.

Here Carpio shares his thoughts on the joined east-west issues:

“(1) No Philippine law specifically regulates MSR in our extended continental shelf (beyond the 200-mile EEZ) like Benham Rise.

“(2) However, the Philippines having ratified UNCLOS, this international convention is part of the Philippine legal system. Under Article 246 of UNCLOS, the Philippines has an obligation to allow foreign states to conduct MSR in its continental shelf like Benham Rise ‘to increase scientific knowledge of the marine environment for the benefit of all mankind.’ Thus, the results of the MSR must be made known to the whole world.

“(3) MSR by foreign states in Benham Rise is purely for scientific research, and cannot be to explore the mineral resources for exploitation. Under UNCLOS, the Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to explore and exploit the mineral resources in its extended continental shelf like Benham Rise. Neither the President nor the Foreign Secretary can waive this exclusive sovereign right to a foreign state. To ensure that the foreign state conducting MSR in our extended continental shelf is not exploring for purposes of exploitation, Filipino marine scientists must be on board the foreign research vessels.

“(4) UNCLOS is a ‘package deal.’ A state that ratifies UNCLOS must accept its rights and obligations as one entire package. A ratifying state cannot cherry pick – accepting only certain provisions and rejecting others.

“(5) By refusing to accept the award of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal pursuant to the dispute settlement provisions of UNCLOS, China is not accepting its obligation under UNCLOS. China should not be allowed to enjoy its rights under UNCLOS, like conducting MSR in Benham Rise, while it refuses to accept its obligation under the arbitral award. Otherwise, China is cherry picking and not taking UNCLOS as one package deal.

“(6) Article 246 of UNCLOS states, ‘Coastal States shall, in normal circumstances, grant their consent for marine scientific research projects by other States.’ The refusal of China to comply with the arbitral award of the UNCLOS tribunal is not a ‘normal circumstance,’ and thus the Philippines should refuse China’s request for MSR in Benham Rise.

“(7) If a bully has squatted on your front yard, and requests to look at your backyard, would you grant the request of the bully? China has squatted on the West Philippine Sea and refuses to leave despite the ruling of the UNCLOS tribunal. Now, China requests to be allowed to survey the Philippine Sea on the east side of the Philippines. The Philippines would be dumb (bugok) to grant China’s request.”

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For 14 years Harry Roque headed the Center for International Law and taught at the University of the Philippines College of Law. That was before he became party-list congressman in 2016 and presidential spokesman in 2017. Here are some of his recent statements:

On China’s naming of undersea features in Benham Rise: “Don’t let’s magnify the issue … China gave so many names – siopao, siomai, ampao, pechay, hototay – but all those don’t mean it is laying claim.”

On President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed “joint exploration” with China of West Philippine Sea resources: “It’s a practical solution for Filipinos to utilize natural resources without having to deal with the contentious conflicting claims to territories… The existing jurisprudence is we can enter into joint exploration and joint exploitation with foreign entities provided that it complies with the Constitution among others, it be pursuant to a written agreement signed by the President and submitted to Congress.”

On China’s “co-ownership” of those Philippine resources: “What the President meant was that’s exactly the kind of relationship we will have in a joint exploration and exploitation.”

*      *      *

Ten years ago when the Joint Marine Seismic Understanding was exposed, Roque called it “treasonous.” Malacañang had ordered the Philippine National Oil Co. to sign with China National Overseas Oil Corp. the secret joint exploration of the Palawan continental shelf and Recto (Reed) Bank within the Philippine EEZ and way beyond China’s.

Roque said:

“Clearly, an agreement to jointly survey for the existence of petroleum resources in the Spratlys would be a derogation of the country’s sovereign rights (because) the exploration here would cease to be exclusive.

“A Filipino GOCC could not redefine what is provided for by law.

“My position is that anyone who will give away Philippine territory is guilty of treason. Since the national territory is governed by the Constitution and by law, a President (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) who will surrender the exercise of sovereign rights is guilty of treason, an impeachable offense.”

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Chinese bases near the Philippines


We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)




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China has long had its eye on James Shoal and may move toward the island unless Malaysia or Indonesia protest…


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines President Duterte Wants New Ocean Survey in Areas China Already Surveyed — Proposes The Philippines Buy Maritime Survey Ships

March 6, 2018


A Filipino soldier looks over Casiguran Port in Aurora province, the jump-off point going to Benham Rise or Philippine Rise. Toledo IV, File
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( – March 6, 2018 – 2:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte told his Cabinet members that there is a need to invest in maritime survey ships to assess the resources in Benham or Philippine Rise.

In a Cabinet meeting Monday evening, Duterte noted that foreigners have been doing a lot of reasearch in the undersea region off the coast of Aurora.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that there was an initial proposal to use Malampaya funds for buying new maritime exploration vessels.

“It was noted that there may be legal questions because the Malampaya funds in a case that I filed there was a… permanent injunction issued by the Supreme Court that Malampaya funds could only be used for energy-related projects,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, on the other hand, said that the government has enough funds to buy new research ships.

“It was Secretary Dominguez who said, ‘We have the money anyway, we’ll buy even if we do not have to use Malampaya funds’ so the government will buy more research vessels,” Roque said.

During the recent Cabinet meeting, Duterte also reiterated his previous order that only Filipinos will be allowed to conduct research in Benham Rise.

Roque, however, clarified that the order was not directed against China, which conducted only two marine scientific research in the area.

“The president reiterated that the only right that foreigners can exercise in Philippine Rise is the right to innocent passage. Exploration for natural resources, conduct of scientific research, laying of submarine cables and building of artificial islands in the Philippine Rise are reserved for Philippine nationals,” Roque said.

As declared by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, Benham Rise is part of the Philippines’ extended continental shelf, giving Manila sovereign rights to explore and exploit resources in the area.

Related video:



Philippines President Duterte Says Philippines co-owns West Philippine Sea with China — Making Up International Law Mid-Speech?

March 1, 2018

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) – March 1, 2018 – 12:00am

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Duterte said China has offered the Philippines joint exploration of the South China Sea after he opted to shift foreign policy in favor of Beijing – a 180-degree turn from the stance of the previous Aquino administration. KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Following his pivot to China, President Duterte yesterday bragged that Beijing has recognized that it is a “co-owner” with the Philippines with regard to disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Duterte said China has offered the Philippines joint exploration of the South China Sea after he opted to shift foreign policy in favor of Beijing – a 180-degree turn from the stance of the previous Aquino administration.

“I will not go into a battle which I cannot win and the consequence would be a massacre of my soldiers. Not now,” Duterte said during the inauguration of new housing units in Marawi City yesterday.

Recalling his conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Duterte said more substantial things are accomplished when communication lines are open.

He stressed that no positive development could be reached by the two countries if he kept spewing expletives at the Chinese leaders.

Now the Chinese are looking into joint exploration in disputed areas in the South China Sea – which the President sees as a recognition of “co-ownership.”

Duterte said that Xi knew beforehand that his government would have to recognize the Philippines’ rights over the disputed areas to make it work.

In the same event, Duterte also addressed the concerns over Chinese incursion at the Philippine Rise, previously known as Benham Rise.

Unlike in the South China Sea, Duterte maintained that only the Philippines has sovereign rights over the Philippine Rise. He said he is ready to fight it out with any country claiming it.

“That is within our economic zone and territory,” he added.

Duterte said nobody could dispute that the Philippine Rise is within the country’s continental shelf.


Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said the government should provide “Filipinized” names to the underwater features of the Philippine Rise and get them recognized by the appropriate international organization.

Just like China has named five of the underwater features of the Philippine Rise, Pimentel said this should also be explored by the Philippine government.

“So labanan na lang yan (this will be a battle) on who has the right to give the name and I’m sure there’s a body which will decide, so let’s start our public relations campaign with that body,” Pimentel said.

“We should give the underwater features within the Philippine area of responsibility or Philippine exclusive economic zone some Filipino or Filipinized names,” he added.

China has named four undersea mountains and a hill at the Philippine Rise through the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

Chinese naval ships have reportedly been conducting surveys at the area since 2004.

It was discovered that China conducted hydrographic surveys in the Philippine Rise without the required consent of the Philippine government.

Pimentel said this move by China should serve as a lesson to the Philippines that it should strengthen its scientific capabilities.

“But just like what I said before, we shouldn’t be too alarmist because giving a name is not really claiming it,” he said.

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV welcomed the efforts of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to contest the move of China to name the underwater features as a step towards safeguarding Philippine territory.

He said the DFA should also pursue the nullification of the Chinese names in the Philippine Rise.

“China has violated our sovereign rights in discovering these features and must not be given the honor of naming them,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the government should invest in its capacity to conduct its own scientific research in the Philippine Rise.

“We should not be too dependent on foreign partnerships. Let us fund the projects that will benefit the future of our country. Let’s make the extra effort to support our scientists and ensure that we can maximize the Philippine Rise and protect it from any threat,” he said. – Marvin Sy, Paolo Romero