Lorenzana said on March 9, 2017 that he was "disturbed" by what he believes are survey missions by Chinese ships deep into the Philippines' 200nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Chinese survey missions included a warship detected 70 miles off the Philippine west coast and Chinese survey ships seen in the Philippines’ northeast and southeast seaboard.
- Benham Rise (or Plateau) is a 13 million hectare under sea region east of Luzon and is 35 meters underwater at its shallowest point. The "probability is extremely very high" there are massive oil deposits at Benham Rise. Lorenzana said that satellite imagery provided by allies [Pete Comment. Probably the US] had tracked Chinese vessels for three months last year in Benham Rise, a vast area declared by the United Nations to be part of the Philippines' continental shelf.
- Scarborough Shoal - (called Panatag Shoal by the Philippines and Huangyan Dao Reef by China) - a triangular atoll located 220 kilometers west of Luzon. The Shoal area may contain undersea oil. Duterte is allowing Chinese structures "environmental monitoring station" to be built on the Scarborough because China is too powerful and that even the US could not stop China, and
See an earlier Submarine Matters' article China's South China Sea Island Base Building of September 24, 2015. This covered China's gradual militarization of Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, all in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea. Now Benham Rise and Scarborough Shoal appear less military and more oil/gas exploration phase. By military island building China graphically signals how serious it is and then oil/gas exploration can proceed unhindered by countries with less conventional military power than China (ie. all countries except the US).