DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A fisherfolk organization criticized President Rodrigo Duterte on his statement that he’ll allow Chinese fishing vessels to operate in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) because of “friendship” with China.
The group called Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) criticized how Duterte is citing friendship with China after the incident last June 22 when a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat that left 22 fishermen adrift at sea.
“Who’s friends with whom? Duterte can’t speak in behalf of the Filipino fisherfolk who are being threatened, harassed and intimidated by Chinese personnel in the West Philippine sea. How China treats our fisherfolk is far from friendship, but antagonism,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said.
Duterte made this remark during the 122nd anniversary of the Presidential Security Group.
In his speech, the President said the country’s sovereignty lies only 12 miles from its land, and one cannot invoke sovereignty on economic zones out in the sea.
“No country in the world has a sovereignty (on his) economic zone. It is not a question of sovereignty,” Duterte claimed.
But Hicap warned that Chinese fishing vessels are after high value and endangered marine species including sea turtles and giant clams, a practice that would destroy Philippine marine resources.
“Fish catch of Filipino fishers will further decline because the advanced Chinese fishing technology will outcompete the traditional fishing gear of Filipino fishermen,” he said.
The president’s remark drew criticisms from legal experts and critics, including National Democratic Front Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison.
“He is so blinded by bribes from China that he has become ignorant of the Constitution he is sworn to uphold,” Sison said on social media.
Section 2 of Article XII on National Economy and Patrimony states that , “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Sison also points out the Philippines won the 2016 arbitral ruling against China over the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea recognized the country’s sovereign rights over the EEZ. (davaotoday.com)