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Binay vows free social services to fisherfolk affected by sea row

/ 07:19 PM April 24, 2016

DAGUPAN CITY—Instead of directly challenging China, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday said he would provide social services to the fishermen prevented from fishing in Philippine waters amid an arbitration case over the West Philippine Sea dispute.

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During the presidential debate at University of Pangasinan, Binay was asked by a fisherman from Infanta town, who had been stopped from fishing in their seas, what he would do to help displaced fisherfolk.

The Vice President said he would speak to the president of China to relay the concerns of the fishermen.

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Approaching the fisherman from the podium and calling him “brod,” Binay said he would also help him by providing social services and livelihood opportunities.

“Brod, I understand your suffering … The first thing I will do is to find a way to speak to the Chinese president while the territorial dispute is still being discussed,” Binay told him.

“I will work hard, brod, so that you will be given funds so you can start a livelihood.”

He also promised the fisherman that his children would be given free education under a Binay administration.

“You fish so you can send your children to school,” Binay said.

“Free medicines, hospitalization … the government is there to provide for your everyday needs,” he added.

Binay openly supports conducting bilateral talks with China and entering into a joint venture with the economic giant to explore oil and gas in the resource-rich contested waters.

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The Philippines claims that it has full maritime entitlement in the West Philippine Sea, and that China’s nine-dash line is invalid under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) because it overlaps on the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS).

The country has elevated the case to the International Arbitration Tribunal governed by the Unclos. The tribunal recently ruled in favor of the Philippines because the case did not involve sovereignty or sea boundary delimitation. China has refused to participate in the arbitration.

Earlier, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, who is an advocate of the country’s claims, said it would be catastrophic if the next administration would withdraw the arbitration case.

Amid the maritime and territorial spat, China has conducted massive land reclamation activities in the area, turning submerged reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military equipment and structures. RC

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TAGS: Elections 2016, Jejomar Binay, Pangasinan debate, presidential debate, South China sea, West Philippine Sea
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