More Filipino fishermen should go out and fish in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), urged National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Thursday, Nov. 5.
“I would rather encourage more fishermen (to go out) there but not as militias,” he said during an interview over CNN Philippines amid territorial disputes with other countries including China over the WPS.
Esperon pointed this out in response to the proposals to deploy militias to help patrol the WPS.
“Let us remember that the West Philippine Sea is a big source for our fisheries,” he said.
Esperon cited that the fish caught in the WPS comprise 7.3 percent of the total nationwide fish catch.
“Our Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries should be encouraging more fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, not maritime militias,” he reiterated.
The national security adviser discouraged the deployment of militias in the WPS and said he would “rather deploy there better trained, better equipped forces from the Philippine Navy, from the Philippine Air Force, Marines, the Army.”
Esperon said militias are better off patrolling the territorial waters in the Southern Philippines.
“But in the high seas and in disputed waters, that is not advisable,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Esperon said the military will continue to stay away from participating in joint military exercises in the WPS.
“The President has given the directive to Sec. Lorenzana (Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana) not to participate in joint military exercises in the West Philippine Sea or in the South China Sea,” he said.
“We suspended that because by going to joint exercises in the West Philippine side we are not contributing to the peaceful atmosphere in the South China Sea,” he explained.
On the other hand, Esperon said “joint exercises are allowed in waters that are part of our territory.”