Palace: Duterte’s policy allowed PH fishermen to return in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — If not for President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy on China, Malacañang said fishermen would still be unable to go to Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
This was presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s reaction to fisherman Carlo Montehermozo who expressed dismay that Duterte’s answer on how to help them fish peacefully in the West Philippine Sea in 2016 was only a “campaign joke.”
Montehermozo earlier said there are still Chinese vessels in the disputed waters who at times would shoo small fishing boats from the area.
“Carlo, unang una, ang tanong, nakakapaghanapbuhay ka ba ngayon? Hindi ba totoo na noong panahon ng administrasyong Aquino kung saan tayo po ay pala-away sa Tsina, e yun po yung panahon na hindi kayo nakapangingisda sa Boro (Scarborough Shoal)?” Roque said in an online briefing.
(Carlo, first of all, are you able to work now? Isn’t it true that it was under the Aquino administration, when we were quarrelsome with China, when you weren’t able to fish in Scarborough Shoal?)
“Wag po natin kakalimutan na kung hindi po nabago ang polisiya natin sa Tsina, hindi pa rin po kayo makakapangisda,” he added.
(Let us not forget that if the policy on China didn’t change, you still won’t be able to fish.)
It was during Aquino’s administration when the Philippines filed a case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The PCA’s decision rejecting China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea was handed down in July 2016, at the beginning of Duterte’s term.
China has consistently refused to acknowledge the arbitral ruling.
Roque reiterated that Duterte’s election promise to ride a jet ski to the disputed waters and plant the Philippine flag there meant he will assert Philippine sovereignty.
“Sa ngayon po, mukhang gumagana ang polisiya ng Presidente, isulong ang mga pwedeng isulong na bagay at ikaw po ngayon ay isa sa mga nagbebenepisyo— paghahanap-buhay muli sa Boro,” he said.
(Right now, it looks like the President’s policy is working, to pursue what we can pursue and you are one of the beneficiaries for being able to work in Scarborough Shoal.)
Roque further addressed Carlo, saying the difference now was the fishermen were able to fish in the contested area “as a matter of right” because of the ruling of The Hague, along with fishermen from other claimant states such as China and Vietnam.
“Sino po ngayon ang nagbigay ng pagkakataon sayo Carlo na magkaroon ng pagkain sa hapagkainan? Hindi ba po ang polisiya ng Presidente? At hindi ang polisiya na awayin ang Tsina?” he added. “Ang punto po, dati ni hindi sila makapunta ng Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal). Malaking bagay po iyon. Wag po nating i-deny yan.”
(Who gave you the chance to have food on your table? Isn’t it the President’s policy? And not the policy to quarrel with China?… The point is, they couldn’t go to Bajo de Masinloc before. That’s a huge thing. Let us not deny that.)
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