Senator rejects decision allowing China to fish in PH exclusive economic zone

Published June 25, 2019, 9:36 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday rejected President Duterte’s decision allowing China to fish within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) due to the existing “friendship” between the two countries.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Hindi maaaring makipag-friend zone si Pangulo sa ating exclusive economic zone (President Duterte cannot friend zone our exclusive economic zone),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“While we recognize and celebrate our long ties with China, this is no reason for President Duterte to surrender our sovereign rights and to disregard our own Constitution and laws amid China’s brazen incursions in our territory,” Hontiveros stressed.

Duterte’s pronouncement came at the heels of the ramming of the F/B GEM-VER 1 by a Chinese fishing boat last June 9 at Recto Bank.

Twenty-two (22) Filipino fishermen were abandoned at sea by the Chinese fishers and were later rescued by the crew of a passing Vietnamese ship after the Filipino crew on board the GEM-VER-1 struggled to survive for hours while in the sea.

Despite the harrowing ordeal suffered by the Filipino fishermen, Duterte, in an interview on Monday, said that China, “as friends,” will be allowed to continue to fish in waters within the Philippines’ EEZ.

But Hontiveros said that the Recto Bank, where the unfortunate incident occurred, is an area where the Philippines has exclusive and special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources and other economic activities.

“Just when you thought President Duterte’s foreign policy track couldn’t get any more dysfunctional and absurd, the President finds a new way to toe Beijing’s line and enable China’s misdeeds in the West Philippine Sea,” she stressed.

“After he dismisses the pain of our fishermen by calling the ramming a minor incident, he adds insult to injury by allowing China’s fishermen to fish in our waters,” Hontiveros pointed out.

“He has apparently forgotten that it was the Chinese fishermen who left 22 Filipinos at the mercy of the sea,” she stressed.

Hontiveros urged President Duterte to remember his duties to the nation, which he swore to fulfill.

“The President swore an oath to execute the country’s laws; he cannot allow any country to disregard and violate the country’s maritime and fishing laws: friends or not, our loyalty as government officials must ultimately lie with the interests of the sovereign Filipino nation and its Constitution and laws,” the lawmaker said.