Palace says other countries not allowed to establish structures in Benham Rise
Malacanang said on Tuesday other countries can exercise innocent passage in Benham Rise, but are not allowed to build any structures.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reiterated Benham Rise belongs to the Filipinos and the Philippines.
"The Philippine government is duty-bound to defend and protect our sovereign and territorial right over this region. Other countries can exercise innocent passage and territorial navigation. But they are disallowed to stay and establish any structure in the area," he said.
He noted that the Philippines' claim in Benham Rise is supported by Article 77 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
"The Philippines has the responsibility to oversee and regulate the sailing ships of other countries that pass through the waters around Benham Rise," Abella said.
China has confirmed that its marine research vessels passed through Benham Rise recently.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has said they were just exercising the principle of freedom of navigation and right to innocent passage.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, which is also being claimed party by the Philippines and other southeast Asian countries and Taiwan. Celerina Monte/DMS