2020-06-04

Benham Rise could be the next flashpoint with China

By Bernie V. Lopez
As seen on the April 2020 issue of Philippine Tribune

Spratleys is peanuts compared to Benham, the next flashpoint with China. There are a few reefs to militarize, only remote defenceless oil rigs to build. China’s ongoing secret explorations imply they will claim Benham by hook or by crook. Duterte’s subservient stance has nullified the victories in the Hague. What options are there?

Benham Submarine Plateau is a 13-million hectare undersea mesa, 250 km east of Dinapigue, Isabela, awarded to the Philippines by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in December 2013. It is rich in mineral and gas resources.

In July 2016, China Daily reported China’s secret undersea explorations. Pre-Hispanic people from Catanduanes fished in the area.