Isko Moreno says China must respect PH claims in WPS; vows to beef-up defense to protect fishermen
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on Saturday said he doesn’t regard China as an “enemy” on the issue of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) but maintained that the Chinese government should respect the Philippines’ claim in the WPS.
“Wala. Hindi ko naman sila kaaway. I cannot blame (Chinese President) Xi Jinping thinking that West Philippine Sea is theirs. But in the same manner, the kind of thinking, the kind of respect must be given to us. No, it’s also ours,” Moreno told veteran TV host Korina Sanchez during the Upuan ng Katotohanan – The Presidentiables segment on her weekly program Rated K aired on A2Z.
“In the meantime, we won in the Hague ruling and rules must be observed. Contracts and agreements must be recognized,” the 47-year-old presidential aspirant said.
Moreno made the remark when asked by Korina Sanchez if he was mad at China for claiming the West Philippine Sea. The WPS accounts roughly one third of Philippine waters and hosts a wealth of the country’s coastal and marine resources from coral reefs and fisheries resources, to energy and mineral resources, among others.
China, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea, seized control of Panatag Shoal in 2012, prompting the Philippines to seek UN arbitration. In July 12, 2016, the Philippines won the arbitration case it lodged against China after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim that covers nearly the entire South China Sea.
Defending PH waters
Moreno had said that aside from being fearless in defending the country’s sovereignty in the WPS by asserting the Hague Ruling, there is an urgent need to build the country’s capacity to defend its waters in securing unimpeded access for small fisherfolk to abundant fishing grounds.
Investing and upgrading the country’s defense capabilities, according to Moreno, will also be on top of his agenda if he wins the presidency.
Moreno stressed that modernizing the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard will greatly improve the country’s lines of defense on its western seaboard, thus helping fishermen to fish freely and unhampered.
Moreno also expressed his desire to appoint as secretary of the Department of National Defense an official from the Navy who has the expertise in guarding the country’s borders. He is also thinking of appointing a Navy flag officer as Armed Forces chief of staff, a first in the AFP.
Beefing up the assets of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard as part of the strategy to protect the country’s western seaboard was bared by Moreno during the Ikaw Na Ba presidential interviews on radio station DZBB.
“Yung perang ibibili ko ng kanyon, bala na ipuputok ko sa kapwa ko Pilipino, ibibili ko na lang ng barko. Mga barkong pandagat na nakatutulong pa in any given tragedy… na makabili tayo ng Navy ship, Coast Guard ship at saka mga air assets for our navy and our coast guards so that we will reinforce what Israel did,” Moreno said over DZBB.
Moreno pointed out that modernizing the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard will greatly improve the country’s lines of defense on its western coast, from Batanes to Jolo.
“Sa Israel meron silang parang virtual Air Dome, air protection para sa kanilang kapit-bahay. The same principle from Batanes to Jolo, sa west side, we will create our shield, our water asset so that kung anuman ‘yung nasakop ng Tsina, inagaw ng Tsina, wag na ‘yun lumawak. Tapos at the same time, ang puno’t dulo ng lahat ng ito, ng pakikipaglaban natin, is makapangisda ‘yung mga mangingisda nating Pilipino, unhampered, unharmed, undisturbed. We will fish in our ocean,” Moreno explained.
Moreno said through diplomatic means, his government will also continue to convince other countries to help the Philippines so that the Hague ruling will be observed and implemented properly.
“Technically nanalo tayo sa Hague. Igigiit natin ‘yung ating panalo dun sa mga institusyong ating kinabibilangan din bilang miyembro ng Tsina. Meron naman tayo nung United Nation. We will continue to convince others, multilaterally na ‘yung ibang mga kasama natin na tulungan tayong mapatupad nang tama in favor of the Philippines ‘yung desisyon sa Hague,” he said.
To help fishermen earn more, Moreno is supporting the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) independent from the existing Department of Agriculture (DA).
Moreno said that he will certify as an “urgent bill” to Congress the separation of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) from the agriculture department to ensure that that the newly-created DFAR will focus on how to help fishermen increase their income.
To ensure that the fish and agricultural produce of farmers and fishermen remain fresh, Moreno will also order the procurement and installation of cold storage facilities for agricultural regions and provinces where fishing is the main source of livelihood.
Moreno noted that the reason why many fishermen resort to drying their fish is due to the absence of cold storage facilities in their respective provinces.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.