Agrifisheries Alliance tells China: Remove militia vessels | Inquirer News
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CHINESE INCURSIONS

Agrifisheries Alliance tells China: Remove militia vessels

/ 05:04 AM April 19, 2021

An alliance of five coalitions representing different agriculture stakeholders urged China to immediately withdraw its more than 200 militia vessels from the West Philippine Sea, days after Filipino business groups made a rare move of raising their opposition against Beijing over the maritime issue.

The Agrifisheries Alliance (AFA) said in a statement on Sunday that it is joining Philippine business groups in supporting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s position to get China to withdraw its maritime militia vessels from the West Philippine Sea.

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Vehement protest

The AFA said it has five coalitions covering a cross-section of agriculture stakeholders. They represent farmers and fisherfolk (Alyansa Agrikultura), agribusiness (Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.), science and academe (Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines), rural women (Pambansang Kilusan ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan), and other sectors (AgriFisheries 2025).

“The stakeholders across the different sectors of agriculture vehemently protest the illegal and threatening presence of the Chinese maritime militia presence in our seas,” the AFA said.

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The statement was forwarded on Sunday by the Makati Business Club (MBC), one of the Filipino business groups that first issued a joint statement on Wednesday last week, urging China to withdraw the Chinese vessels that are currently occupying various parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Unwanted presence

The AFA said its position was based on three reasons: sovereignty; food security; and livelihood. For sovereignty, the AFA said it was clear that the unwanted Chinese military presence violates the Philippine jurisdiction over its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ), citing the 2016 ruling based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“For food security, our fish supply is severely threatened by Chinese illegal fishing,” it said.

“For livelihood, the Chinese threaten us in our own seas by using water cannons, ramming our small boats, including sinking the fishing boats Gem-Ver 1 in the Recto Bank, and authorizing the Chinese Coast Guard to fire on our vessels within our EEZ,” the AFA said.

Signatories to statement

The following business groups signed the statement issued last week: the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest business group in the country; the Management Association of the Philippines; the MBC; the Filipina CEO Circle; the Judicial Reform Initiative; Cebu Business Club, Iloilo Business Club Inc.; and the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development.

The AFA, which is also represented by the academe, earlier submitted to Agriculture Secretary William Dar a list of recommendations for the agriculture sector. INQ

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TAGS: Agrifisheries Alliance, China sea incursion, Julian Felipe Reef, maritime dispute, West Philippine Sea
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