DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Militant youth group League of Filipino Students (LFS) slammed the Duterte government for being “incapable of defending our country’s own territorial integrity” with the claim that it could only do so much about China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on Monday, March 25, responded on a video released by the camp of senatorial bet Neri Colmenares that local fishermen were allegedly driven away by the Chinese Coast Guard in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
“They have to show proof that’s being done now again. If that is being done, certainly we will protest. We will not allow our countrymen to be subjected to that kind of harassment,” Panelo said.
But Malacañang said that the country can only protest against China’s actions like other claimant nations, acknowledging that China’ has “control” over the area.
“May magagawa ba tayo? Sila ang may control as of now ‘di ba? Meron silang pwersa doon. We can only protest like any other country na nagke-claim,” Panelo said.
(What can we do? They have control as of now, right? They have forces there. We can only protest, like any other country claiming rights.)
LFS said that for the government to claim that it could not do anything about China’s aggression and militarization in the West Philippine Sea is “not just defeatist but also outright insensitivity to the damnation experienced by hundreds of thousands of ordinary Filipino people.”
The group expressed concern over Filipino fisherfolks who continue to be deprived of their livelihood, amid the entry and intimidation of Chinese vessels in Philippine waters.
“Without batting an eyelash, Duterte has sold our sovereignty to China and the US. At the expense of his own fellowmen, Duterte has gone all-out with his puppetry to these foreign plunderers and terrorists,” LFS national spokesperson Kara Taggaoa said.
Panelo asked for ‘proof’ of fishermen’s harassment before the government would take action, which for LFS, is “nasty negligence of duty” and invalidated the difficulties that fisherfolk communities were now facing.
“Why is the burden of proof on our local fishermen when Duterte is the one who’s not doing his mandated job? In his desperate dictatorship, he has mobilized his police and military in the countrysides, communities and schools, waging his senseless wars against the people; but in the face of outright foreign plunder, his true colors show – he is an ultimate coward,” Taggaoa added.
Scrambling for what’s left
In a six-minute video posted in Neri Colmenares’ Facebook page over the weekend, fishermen in Masinloc, Zambales bared how their livelihood was affected after Chinese vessels entered Scarborough Shoal.
“The Chinese coast guard stole our catch and forced us to leave,” one of the fishermen said.
Allegedly, Chinese ships are blocking and driving away the Filipino fishermen, using water cannons to destroy their boats.
“All the fishermen are now stranded here in the municipal waters since we can’t enter the Scarborough Shoal anymore, so we’re all scrambling for what’s left near the shore,” they said.
In 2016, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its landmark decision, concluded: “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line.”
The International Tribunal added that China has violated Philippine sovereign rights on areas within its exclusive economic zone by interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, constructing artificial islands and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. (davaotoday.com)