China is right: Roque says PH has no sovereignty over Benham Rise, only sovereign rights

Image from Harry L. Roque's Facebook account
  • Presidential spox said China correct in saying PH cannot claim Benham Rise as its territory
  • He explained PH can only exercise sovereign rights over underwater plateau
  • He also clarified that countries can conduct research only with PH’s permission

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said China’s Foreign Ministry is correct in saying that the Philippines cannot claim Benham Rise as its own territory due to international law demarcating the extended continental shelves of archipelagic countries.

According to Roque, the country can exercise sovereign rights—not sovereignty—over the underwater plateau.

“Tama po iyon. Wala tayong titulo sa [That’s correct. We don’t have at title over] Benham Rise. Because what we have is sovereign rights. Sovereign rights is different from title. Sovereign rights is the right to explore and exploit the natural and non-living resources found in the area,” ABS-CBN quoted him as saying.

We do not have sovereignty in the Benham Rise because what we only have in Benham Rise as part of our extended continental shelf is the right to explore and exploit the natural resources found thereat,” he said.

Roque however clarified that China—and other countries—can conduct research in the area only with permission from the Philippines because of the latter’s sovereign rights.

“Because it is sovereign, because it is exclusive, ibig sabihin noon, desisyon na ng soberenya iyon, soberenyang bansa kung nais niyang i-share sa iba iyon [that means, it’s a decision of the sovereign, it’s up to the sovereign nation if it wants to share it],” he said. “And we have allowed scientific research on the basis of guidelines that are already existing. And other nations, or other companies from different countries, can also apply.”

The spokesperson added that President Rodrigo Duterte is well within his powers as the chief architect of foreign policy to allow such research.

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