Press Release
May 26, 2021


Senator Francis "Tol" N. Tolentino has filed a bill seeking to rename Benham Rise as the "Philippine Rise" or "Talampas ng Pilipinas" to underscore the country's assertion of sovereign rights over the 13-million-hectare underwater plateau.

The Senator said renaming the Benham Rise to Philippine Rise or Talampas ng Pilipinas is an exercise of sovereignty and is aimed at protecting national interest.

In his Senate Bill No. 2235, Tolentino said the measure will complement President Duterte's Executive Order No. 25.

Tolentino's measure also aims to name the 22 undersea features found in the area.

It also seeks to mandate the use of the name "Philippine Rise" or "Talampas ng Pilipinas" and the names adopted in the bill for its undersea features in official maps, charts, and all other official documents. All private institutions, organizations, and establishments organized under the laws of the Philippines or operating within the Philippines are also mandated to use the designations in all communications, announcements, and messages, both domestically and internationally.

Tolentino underscored the country's sovereign rights over the Philippine Rise, an underwater plateau about 2,000 to 5,000 meters deep located in Aurora. Article 77 of the United Nations' Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides that a coastal state has sovereign rights over its continental shelf for the purpose of exploration and exploiting its natural resources. No other state may exploit or undertake exploration activities in the Philippine Rise without express consent of the Philippines.

Previously, China named five undersea features in the Philippine Rise despite the declaration by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNLCS) that it is part of the Philippines' continental shelf.

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), an intergovernmental organization that aims to ensure the world's waters are surveyed and charted, approved one of the names submitted by China in 2016 and four other names in 2017.

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