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'Noted' is China's reply to PHL concern about naming Benham features —Esperon



That was the reaction of China when the Philippines raised the issue over the naming of five underwater features in Benham Rise, according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

"We will have to get the report muna. It has been noted. Anyway, every six months and bilateral consultative mechanism, plus of course meron tayong upcoming code of conduct meetings," said Esperon in a report by Raffy Tima on "24 Oras" on Tuesday.

Esperon said the Philippines remains open to raising the issue with the International Mapping Agnecy of the United Nations, but this isn't a priority of the government.

In a Senate hearing on Monday, Esperon revealed that China conducted an unauthorized study in Benham Rise in 2004, saying Manila did not know of the trespass at the time "for reasons of our capacity and capabilities to monitor the area."

The MSR in 2004 led to China naming five of the undersea features in the rise. The Chinese names have since been approved by an International Hydrographic Organization.

The Philippines submitted in 2008 a territorial claim over the Benham Rise as part of its extended continental shelf. The United Nations approved the claim in 2012.

Earlier this year, China was granted permission to conduct what Filipino scientists have claimed was a research on ocean currents.

The drew criticisms because of China's claims in most of the South China Sea in the western side of the archipelago.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal said the naming issue is "the least of our problems right now."

"It's an issue of honor and prestige really. Hindi pa naman siya ganoon kalaki in terms of economic o security impact," said Batongbacal. —JST, GMA News