By Jel Santos
A fisherfolk group on Wednesday slammed Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for acting as a lapdog of Communist China after he said that Chinese fishermen are free to fish at the West Philippine Sea.
“Binangga ka na, pinabayaan ka pa, pababalikin mo pa para nakawan ka. Wala nang katumbas ang pagiging sunud-sunuran ni Duterte sa Tsina sa pagkakanulo nito sa soberanya ng bansa (You’ve been hit, and forsaken. Then, you tell them to return so that they can steal from you. Duterte’s obedience to China is an act of betrayal to the sovereignty of the country),” Bobby Roldan, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) Central Luzon vice chairperson, said.
The group denounced the earlier statement of Pres. Duterte allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the country’s territorial waters, citing the “friendship” of China and the Philippines.
Should such occur, PAMALAKAYA said it will be a direct violation to both national, and international laws.
The fisherfolk group reiterated the existence of Republic Act 10654 or the Amended Fisheries Code, which states that it is unlawful for any foreign person, entity, or corporation to fish or operate any fishing vessel in Philippine waters and will constitute a prima facie presumption.
Based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal state has the exclusive rights to explore and exploit resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which is located 200-nautical miles from the baseline.
Roldan warned that Pres. Duterte’s statement endangers our sovereignty, marine resources, especially the fishing rights of Filipino fishermen.
“It will weaken our claim in our exclusive economic zone while further strengthening the basis of China’s illegal intrusion in our waters,” he said.
“Although Chinese vessels are already rampant in the West Philippine Sea, a go signal from the Philippine president will encourage more the Chinese poachers to exploit our marine waters and resources at the expense of the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk,” Roldan added.
PAMALAKAYA said China should be held accountable for the Philippine Fisheries Code and the UNCLOS.