Filipino fisher folk told not to leave WPS despite China's fishing ban

Published May 20, 2021, 1:55 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

“Stay there.”

This was what Malacañang told Filipino fishermen despite China’s fishing moratorium over the South China Sea, assuring them that they will be protected from those who may try to drive them away.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) fired a diplomatic protest against China’s fishing ban, saying it is “far beyond” Beijing’s maritime entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In his press briefing on Thursday, Roque said China’s fishing ban has no effect in Philippine territory.

“Wala pong extraterritorial application ang mga batas ng mga dayuhang bansa (The laws of foreign countries do not have extraterritorial applications),” he said.

He, then, told Filipino fishermen not to leave the area and assured them that they will be protected against possible transgressions.

“Diyan lang po kayo sa ating mga traditional na fishing grounds (Just stay there in our traditional fishing grounds),” he said.

“Nandiyan naman po ang ating Coast Guard para pangalagaan din po ang interes ng ating mga mangingisda (Our Coast Guard is there to protect the interests of our fishermen),” he added.

China’s unilateral imposition of a fishing moratorium in the South China Sea until August 16 of this year came as tension in the disputed waters grew due to recent incursions of Chinese vessels in the area.

The DFA said in a statement that the Philippines does not recognize the fishing ban and that China cannot legally enforce such a moratorium in the West Philippine Sea.

It likewise urged China to “desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law.”