"More frequent to regular presence" of large-scale foreign fishing fleets, particularly from China, is expected in our territorial waters should constitutional reform or Charter Change (Cha-Cha) push through, a fishers' group warned on Monday, Feb. 6.
In a statement released as the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments holds its second regular meeting and public consultation on proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution, fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) National Chairperson Fernando Hicap shared the group's sentiments on Cha-Cha's impact on the country's bodies of water.
“Ikinababahala ng mga mangingisda ang pag-igting pa ng dayuhang pandarambong sa ating karagatan at likas-yaman kung tatanggalin ang proteksyon sa mga ito na ipinagkakaloob ng umiiral na konstitusyon (The fisherfolk are worried of intensified foreign plunder in our seas and natural resources if the protections provided by the existing constitution are removed)," Hicap disclosed.
The Pamalakaya official, who will be present at the public consultation as one of the resource persons, reminded the administration of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. on the current situation of the fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea, even amid the protection of the 1987 Constitution.
"Dapat ipaalala sa administrasyong Marcos na wala pa man ang mapanganib na Cha-Cha, talamak na ang presensya ng mga malalaking barkong pangisda ng China sa West Philippine Sea. Paano na lamang kung tuluyan nang aalisin ang proteksyon na inilalaan ng saligang-batas sa ating soberanya (The Marcos administration should be reminded that even though this dangerous Cha-cha is not yet in place, the presence of Chinese fishing vessels is already rampant in the West Philippine Sea. What more if the only constitutional defense of our sovereignty would be completely eliminated)," he pointed out.
"Tiyak na magiging pangkaraniwan na lamang sa mga Pilipinong mangingisda ang makasalubong ng mga dayuhang barko na nagsasagawa ng malakihang-tipo ng pangingisda at iba pang porma ng pandarambong sa ating yamang-dagat (This would normalize the encounters between Filipino fishers and foreign vessels embarking on large-scale fishing expeditions and other forms of plunder in our territorial waters)," he went on.
To note, the Article 12, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution states, “The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
"Hinihikayat namin ang publikong nagmamahal sa ating pambansang soberanya at kasarinlan na tutulan ang anumang hakbanging maisakatuparan ang Cha-cha dahil ito ang magbibigay-daan sa malawakang dayuhang pag-aari ng mga susing industriya ng bansa (We urge the public championing the national sovereignty and independence to reject any measures to amend the constitution through Cha-cha because it will pave the way for complete foreign ownership of our vital industries)," Hicap called.