Countermeasure in West PH Sea redundant, says Pamalakaya

Countermeasure in WPS redundant, says Pamalakaya

11:37 AM April 01, 2024

The creation of a maritime council to address the tensions in the West Philippine Sea is "redundant" to Filipino fishermen, a group said.

Barangay Calapandayan in Subic, Zambales is home to hundreds of fishermen who are slowly losing their only source of livelihood due to the escalating tension in the West Philippine Sea. (Photo by Joanna Rose Aglibot)

SUBIC, Zambales — The creation of a maritime council to address the tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), is “redundant and insignificant” to Filipino fishermen, the group Pamalakaya said Monday.

In a statement, Fernando Hicap, national chairperson of Pamalakaya, questioned the necessity of creating this council despite an existing inter-agency, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, which is supposed to have the same function.

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“The government agencies belonging to the newly created National Maritime Council are already constitutionally mandated to uphold and protect our national territory and natural resources. Why the need to consolidate these agencies into a council with the sole purpose of maritime security, despite an existing task force with the very same functions? ” asked Hicap.

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The move only reflects the government’s constant failure to protect the WPS from foreign aggression since it still shows that they have no concrete plans to regain the country’s full sovereign control of the area and all its marine resources, Hicap said.

“Until the fishing vessels and warships of China and other foreign countries are directly expelled from our waters, the initiative of the Marcos Jr. administration is pointless for the fishermen whose income and livelihood continue to fall or vanish,” said Hicap in Filipino.

READ: Zambales fishers slam latest Chinese harassment in … –

Pamalakaya said all efforts to wrest back control of the country’s territorial waters should be based on an independent foreign policy, not subservience to any foreign power.

“It should be peaceful and diplomatic in accordance with the international tribunal that upheld our country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS),” Hicap added.

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On March 25, President Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order (EO) No. 57, which seeks to “strengthen the Philippines’ maritime security and maritime domain awareness” with the creation of the National Maritime Council.

The order was released two days after China Coast Guard (CCG) ships again bombarded with water cannon a Philippine-commissioned vessel that was on a resupply mission to Filipino troops stationed at a warship intentionally grounded 25 years ago on Ayungin Shoal.

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Since 2012, many fishermen who have been going to Scarborough Shoal in the WPS reported that they were being harassed and bullied by CCG. Some of them lost hope and totally deserted the shoal, which had been their traditional fishing grounds for decades. INQ

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TAGS: maritime dispute, West Philippine Sea

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