MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s planned visit to the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) next week is “unfortunate,” a maritime law expert said.
Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said the continental shelf is not a hotly contested area and the government should instead work on asserting its rights on the West Philippine Sea.
“The fact that it’s happening now while these issues are flaring up again in the West Philippine Sea sort of gives our people a bad impression,” he told ANC’s Beyond Politics.
“It’s kind of funny in a way that you’re asserting rights in an area that is not contested; meantime, the other party, the only other party as far as we know that’s hotly contesting any part of our territory is building up its ability to keep us out,” he said.
Batongbacal also called on the Duterte administration to cooperate with other countries which may be directly affected by China’s militarization in South China Sea.