Robredo: Sotto’s ‘fish from China’ remark ‘insensitive’ to Filipino fishers
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has branded as “insensitive” the remark of Senate President Vicente Sotto III that the Philippines may not just invoke exclusivity over resources in the West Philippine Sea because the “fish could be coming from China.”
According to Robredo, what government officials like her and Sotto should do instead is to ensure that the people, especially the 22 fishermen in the Recto Bank incident, would not feel forsaken.
“Tingin ko, medyo insensitive siya dahil mayroong mga (mangingisda) tayong na-violate iyong kanilang mga karapatan,” Robredo said in an ambush interview on Thursday.
“Para sa akin, at this point, kailangan nating siguruhin na maramdaman noong mga mangingisda na hindi sila iniwan. Maramdaman nila na tayong lahat nagtutulong-tulong para makahanap sila ng hustisya sa sinapit nila,” she added.
Sotto earlier said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel that it is difficult to insist that the resources within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) belongs to the Philippines, because fishes originating from China may have migrated to the area.
The Senate President’s reaction was based on President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pronouncements that China could fish in the disputed region because of friendship.
Robredo, a lawyer by profession, pointed out that the word “exclusive” was placed in the term EEZ for an apparent reason – so that Filipinos may solely enjoy the resources there.
“Sa term pa lang, kaya nga tinatawag na exclusive economic zone kasi iyong ating […] 1987 Constitution – very specific iyong probisyon ng batas na iyong exclusive economic zone, for the exclusive use and enjoyment iyon ng Filipino citizens,” she told GMA-7’s Unang Hirit.
Sovereignty issues in the West Philippine Sea flared up anew following the June 9 incident where a Chinese vessel rammed and sunk a Filipino fishing boat at Recto (Reed) Bank. The Chinese crew was also reported to have abandoned the 22 Filipino fishers in the open sea after the incident.
(Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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