Beijing’s move to assign Chinese names to five seamounts in Benham or the Philippine Rise does not have any impact on the sovereign rights that Manila enjoys over the 13 million-hectare extinct underwater volcano ridge.
Those Chinese labels will not diminish the fact that under international law, Benham is part of the Philippine continental shelf. And all the natural resources found in the waters, seabed and subsoil of Benham belong to the Philippines and form part of our national wealth.
Just the same, the Philippine government should give Filipino names to every seamount in Benham.
Only Filipinos can actually fish in Benham now to ensure that all resources that are rightfully ours would not be exploited and abused by other countries claiming it to be their own.
Benham could be of great economic value to future generations of Filipinos, considering the region’s rich marine resources and massive deposits of metal-bearing nodules.
The Namria survey showed that the sea floor around Benham is covered with metal-rich chunks--manganese nodules that also contain nickel, copper, cobalt and other minerals.--Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza