China has no right to name undersea features in the Philippine Rise or Benham Rise, according to a senior magistrate of the Supreme Court.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said only the Philippines has the right to name such features since the area has already been declared part of the country’s territory.

“We have sovereign rights over Benham Rise because we have exclusive right to explore and exploit the oil, gas and other mineral resources in that area, which has been confirmed by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) as part of the extended continental shelf (ECS) of the Philippines,” the magistrate explained in a statement released over the weekend.

Carpio, who was part of the government’s legal team that earlier handled the protest against China’s incursion in disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, stressed that the naming of undersea features is covered by guidelines set by the International Hydrographic Organization-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IHO-IOC).

“Under the guidelines, the Philippines has the preferential right to name undersea features within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and ECS,” he stressed.

With this position, Carpio suggested that the government should now name the undersea features in the Philippine Rise, which will be recognized as valid names under IHO-IOC rules.

“However, the Philippines must designate via presidential executive order its government agency that will be responsible for approving names for undersea features within the EEZ and ECS,” he pointed out.

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