DAVAO CITY, Philippines — As the group, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) condemned the taking of fish-catch of Filipino fishermen by Chinese Coast Guards at the Scarborough Shoal, the group also expressed the belief that China now has the complete control of the areas and marine resources at the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, the group issued in time with the commemoration of Independence Day on Tuesday, Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap emphasized that the recent incident that took place in the area was not an isolated case, as the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte claimed.
“We condemn China in the strongest terms possible. They have no single right to occupy our waters in the first place, much more to bully our Filipino fishers by grabbing the fish they caught. This harassment and intimidation by Chinese personnel have to stop,” Hicap said, adding that the incident was a complete display of China now having complete control of the Philippines’ marine territory and the rich resources in WPS.
The group also slammed Duterte for downplaying the issue, a sign that the present administration lacks the decisive action to stand against the continuous intrusion of China at WPS.
Such inaction and inutility of the government is glaringly surfacing despite the existence of international laws that invalidate the claim of China at the WPS, Pamalakaya added.
“Duterte’s consistent defeatist stand on the sea row has given China a full guarantee that they can do whatever they want inside our territory, even violating the rights and freedom of Filipino fishers to sail in our traditional fishing grounds. Whatever happens to the Filipino fisherfolks within the disputed waters will be blamed on Duterte who deliberately refuses to decisively assert our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea,” the group said.
Hicap also expressed fear on China’s continuing presence at the WPS will greatly affect the country’s food security as 20 percent of the total annual fish production of the country comes from the resource-rich waters in the area.
“This long-running sea row does not only violate the socio-economic rights of Filipino fishers, it also threatens the local food security and our potential oil and gas reserves that can be utilized for the economic and industrial development of the country,” he added.
Pamalakaya urged Duterte to “take a strong, bold move against this prevalent foreign invasion and violation of our sovereign rights.” (davaotoday.com)