Bayan slams Duterte’s stand on Chinese fishermen
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration that Chinese fishermen can continue fishing in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) within the West Philippine Sea is a betrayal of national interest, the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) stressed on Tuesday.
“It is again a betrayal of national interest for the president of the Philippines to say that China will continue to fish in our exclusive economic zone because we are friends,” Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes said in a statement.
“Friendship has nothing to do with upholding our sovereign rights. Friendship also cannot be invoked to allow the repeated violation of our sovereign rights,” he added.
Duterte on Monday admitted that Chinese fishermen could still fish in Philippine territory within the West Philippine Sea because the Philippines and China are “friends.”
He also said that Chinese fishermen would not stop fishing in Philippine territory even if the government tries to stop them.
Reyes said Duterte’s remarks show that he has no intention of invoking the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that China’s nine-dash-line — or its territorial assertion which includes the whole West Philippine Sea — has no legal and historical basis.
“We are again being told that any assertion of our sovereign rights will necessarily lead to war. That is a false assumption,” he added.
The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China grabbed headlines anew when a Chinese vessel rammed a fishing boat manned by 22 Filipinos.
The distressed Filipinos were likewise abandoned by the Chinese crew and were rescued by the crew of a passing Vietnamese boat.
“We call on the people to commemorate the anniversary of our legal victory vs China on July 12, through public discussions, educational events and protest actions,” Reyes said, referring to the PCA ruling in favor of the Philippines.
“This victory is an important historic milestone which should be celebrated every year so that the Filipino people and the whole world will know what we have achieved,” he added. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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