Explainer: Benham Rise~ the Real Issue

QUESTION #1: Why is the Benham Rise an issue?

We Filipinos are made to confuse the Benham Rise with the South China Sea.  The two issues are as different as water and oil.  There is no dispute on the Benham Rise, while the South China Sea is disputed by several claimant-countries.

Why did so-called “experts” sensationalized the misinformation regarding the Benham Rise when there was no dispute-issue on the Benham Rise because China has repeatedly stated that “it respects the Philippine rights over the area”.  In addition, as Cong. Edcel Lagman said, “the fact that China requested for a permit shows that it recognizes Manila’s sovereignty over the area.”

In fact, Justice Carpio himself explained that other countries, like China, have the right to conduct certain activities in the Benham Rise such as:

  • fishery research because the fish in the ECS belong to mankind
  • surveys on water salinity and water currents because the water column in the ECS belongs to mankind
  • depth soundings for navigational purposes because there is freedom of navigation in the ECS

Even if China had a right to do it themselves, according to Beijing: “China is willing to engage in marine cooperation, including joint scientific research, with friendly countries like the Philippines, so as to bring benefits to the people”.

The Philippines stands to gain working with all foreign partners that can contribute to the resource knowledge of its scientists and people.

QUESTION #2: Why are Carpio Batongbacal, Golez and Alejano confusing the issue?

  1. Carpio incorrectly brings up the arbitration decision with regards to the Benham Rise.  Water and oil should not be mixed.  When he himself acknowledged a year before that China has the right to do research work in the Benham Rise.  Japan and Vietnam, two countries that have ongoing dispute with China have research cooperations with China.
  2. Batongbacal said that Filipino scientists can do the the deepwater research without foreign assistance, which is dangerously inaccurate (see #3)!  Past researches on the Benham Rise were done with foreign assistance providing technology the Philippines does not possess.  Even the scientists themselves admitted they only have the capacity to reach 50 meters (Benham Park), and thats with great difficulty so they can only stay there for 10 minutes.  The Benham Rise is 5000 meters deep!
  3. Alejano said that the Philippines should have chosen a French group that was rejected at the same time as China.  “The French ship applied for a different area and they said their ship is too small to accommodate a Filipino (researcher), that’s why we said no,” Cayetano told reporters.
  4. Carpio, Batongbacal, Golez, and Alejano are raising the alarm bells on China who actually asked the Philippines for permission but deafeningly silent on the issue of US warships actually crossing the Philippines without even informing the Philippines. Why the double-standard?  Is this because one is white?
  5. For scientists all over the world, especially the Philippines, the Benham Rise joint research is part of a long-running international undertaking and contributes to science as we seek to understand Nature’s deepest secrets to develop deeper understanding of how the water cycle around the Philippines affects the climate, environment, and possibly even earthquakes, according to one marine scientist interviewed.

QUESTION #3: Is it true UP IMLOS Director Batongbacal said the Filipinos do not need foreign assistance and can survey the Benham Rise themselves?  Here are the facts:

  1. Filipino marine scientists led by UP MSI (Marine Science Institute) Dr. Cesar Villanoy admitted we Filipinos have ONLY reached 50 meters deep at great difficulty.  Benham Rise is 5,000 meters deep!  Why don’t we let Batongbacal go under and see how far he can go?
  2. The House allocated P100 million pesos for research on the Benham Rise. It costs around $5-8million for each deep sea exploration.
  3. Benham Rise is named after US Navy Admiral Benham by the American surveyors who surveyed the area decades ago!  That means the US have surveyed the area while the Philippines remained without the data, even if the Philippines is an “ally” of the US is an “ally”?  In fact, only now that China has offered its assistance, do we see other countries becoming more generous to the Philippines.
  4. Past surveys done in Benham Rise were done with US-funded Oceana, which has also featured Jay Batongabacal on its video documentary—conflict of interest?  Funders of Oceana are US NGOs which have been linked to destabilization plots worldwide.  Why are US NGOs allowed access to our underwater treasures while we deprive our Filipino scientists the opportunity to cooperate with a Chinese scientific research that is recognized worldwide?
  5. When the Philippines filed for entitlement in the UN in 1999 and needed data to present her case to the UN, the Philippine team had to go to the USA, Germany and Japan to gather research they had done in the past.  This means these countries had data on the Philippines long before we did!
  6. The Philippine marine scientists have been trying  for decades to develop a National Oceanographic Program, but have not been successful due to the lack of support and resources. Research on the Benham Rise will only be beneficial to us.  How come our traditional foreign partners US or Japan have not helped so that our Philippine scientists can be equipped to do the research by themselves?

Question #4: Why China?

  1. China has the proven technology, financial and human resources to successfully do deep water research as proven by the successful joint researches done with South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam— countries which currently also have on-going disputes with China.
  2. Foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano noted that China submitted 18 applications for marine exploration in Benham Rise, but only two were approved. “The US submitted 13 applications, Japan 9 applications, and Korea 4 application, all were granted.”  This goes to show the DFA abides by a stringent application process .   These so-called Pinoy “experts” themselves are embarrassing and disrespecting the professionalism of our DFA.
  3. CH is willing to include PH scientists and share data that other countries refused to give us before, while US and Japan only selectively give us what they want.
  4. Joint marine research with China has legal basis under China-ASEAN 10-year pact on marine protection signed by all ten ASEAN countries with China.

Question #5: Will China use the Benham Rise to invade the Philippines?

  1. American- paid-pinoys (amboys) use this propaganda to sow fear, which is completely groundless and a disservice to the Filipino people. China has said from the beginning that it “respects PH sovereign rights over the Benham Rise.” Joint-research with proven technical partners enhances the resources and capabilities of our Filipino scientists.
  2. There’s also the baseless narrative that China wants the minerals.  Why would China go to war for minerals that China has been paying premium prices for them worldwide? Minerals exporting countries have benefited from China.  Rational businessmen would rather trade than go for war. It is only the few who sell arms that profit from war.
  3. In the thousand years of relations, China has only traded and befriended the Philippines.   The US and Japan are the countries that have betrayed, invaded, massacred the Filipinos!  Even until today, Americans who commit a crime in the Philippines cannot be held under Philippine custody!

Question #6: Why are UP IMLOS Director Jay Batongbacal, Roilo Golez, and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano defending the US WARSHIP in Philippine waters WHO NEVER ASKED the PH for permission but attacks China for ASKING the PH for permission?

  1. The Philippine Constitution prohibits nuclear weapons in the Philippine territory, yet these so-called “experts” are either silent or even defend the US clear violations of Philippine sovereignty.
  2. Can they confirm on record that the US warships routinely crossing the PH area have no nuclear weapons on board?
  3. China marine research invited Pinoys on board… The US does not allow Filipinos to inspect US bases even on Philippine soil!
  4. Declassified information has shown that US has continuously lied to the Philippines about storing nuclear weapons in the Philippines.
  5. What is stopping the US from carrying nuclear weapons in its ships that do not allow even treaty allies to inspect?
  6. Why is there more USA submarines, aircraft carriers, and warships in the area than China even if the area is China’s backyard and far away from USA?
  7. If you are a growing country (China) reliant on safe shipping lines for trade, and your biggest competitor (US) has a history of invading countries it does not like, wouldn’t you defend the neighborhood yourself? China is not stupid to let the US roam around undetected?(A research found that Middle East countries that do not obey the US end up with ISIS wrecking havoc in their countries but countries in the same area that obey are safe from ISIS… is this connected to ISIS suddenly appearing in Marawi?)
  8. The US continues to push for its multi-billion-dollar-military-arms-deal worldwide? Recently, the US closed a $350 billion deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia– a country that is not even at war (the US annual military budget is $700 billion).  US de-classified documents have exposed the role of Saudi Arabia in the terrorist attacks in 9/11, yet the US is willing to sell Saudi Arabia military weapons bigger than China’s annual military budget…  Is this the reason these “Filipino-experts” repeatedly push for PH to buy billions of dollars of arms from the US?

The world needs to stop listening to warmongers.

Filipino scientists work for truth and peace in science… let’s not allow warmongers to keep stealing the show!

Clear, logical explanation of the issue by Prof. CELSO CAINGLET, foreign policy analyst and professor of Ethics of International Relations.


Please share, and defend peace!

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