Gov’t pressed on SCS Code of Conduct after PH fisher barred near Pag-asa Island
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Thursday pushed for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, saying a mere diplomatic protest will no longer work after a Filipino fisherman was barred from entering a fishing ground by a China Coast Guard ship.
In a press briefing, Zarate called on the Duterte government to be more pro-active in pushing for a South China Sea Code of Conduct with other nations that also have territorial claims over the vast area.
“A mere diplomatic protest will probably no longer work and kailangan hikayatin natin ang iba pang claimants sa South China Sea at itulak na magkaroon na ng isang Code of Conduct that will benefit all claimants not only one party or two parties like the US or China,” Zarate said.
(A mere diplomatic protest will probably no longer work and we need to urge other claimants in the South China Sea to push for a Code of Conduct that will benefit all claimants not only one party or two parties like the US or China.)
Zarate made the call after Filipino fisherman Larry Hugo, a fisherman from the town of Kalayaan in the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island, said he was blocked from going to one of the sandbars near the island by a China Coast Guard ship on January 25.
In a video posted on social media, Hugo said he also saw other Chinese vessels stationed in the area, which were likely militia boats that analysts said China uses in asserting its baseless ownership claims over almost the entire South China Sea, which includes the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones.
“Ang panawagan natin ay magkaroon ng isang amity dyan sa South China Sea at respetuhin ang karapatan ng mga claimants especially ang Pilipinas na nagkaroon ng isang historic na pagkapanalo sa International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea,” Zarate said.
(What we want is to have amity in the South China Sea and respect the rights of the claimants especially the Philippines which secured a historic win in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier filed a diplomatic protest against a new China law allowing its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels in Chinese-claimed reefs.
The said law authorizes the Chinese Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim, a ruling that Beijing refuses to recognize.
Other claimants in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
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