Features in the Philippine Rise given Chinese names by Beijing would eventually have Filipino names, Malacañang said yesterday.

“We have sovereign rights and we have the power to give names. I repeat, China will not be angry with us just because we changed the Chinese names. We also changed the American name. This is in line with the independent foreign policy of our President,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing.

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal earlier revealed that China had earned naming rights to five undersea features in what used to be called Benham Rise, a 13-million-hectare submerged continental shelf off Aurora province declared by the United Nations as part of Philippine territory in 2012. President Duterte renamed Benham Rise to Philippine Rise last year after Chinese research ships were spotted in the area.

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) approved the Chinese names last year, Batongbacal said.

The five features now with Chinese names were the Jinghao Seamount, Tianbao Seamount, Haidonquing Seamount, Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount.

The Duterte administration has denounced the Chinese action and ordered the Philippine embassy to raise its concerns before Beijing.

Roque expressed belief there was no bad faith on the part of China when it gave Chinese names to the five features, as naming an area is not the same as claiming it.

Read more: https://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/16/1788298/philippines-give-benham-rise-undersea-features-filipino-names#UWSL3QCGBpDIBYRP.99