Allowing Chinese to fish is act of asserting sovereign rights: Panelo
Malacanang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone is an act of asserting the country’s sovereign rights in disputed waters.
“He’s right there. If you claim to be the owner and if you feel that you are the owner, it is the owner who gives the right to someone who seek your permission to fish,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing.
On Wednesday, Duterte said as far as he is concerned, he is the owner of the West Philippine Sea.
“And I’m just giving the fishing rights,” he said in an interview.
Panelo was then asked if Duterte can give “fishing rights” under the Philippine constitution.
He said “that provision of the Constitution is subordinate to the earlier provision of the Constitution directing him to serve and protect the Filipino people”.
“Moreover, as he explained, there are traditional fishing grounds and Scarborough Shoal is one of them. Meaning, fishermen of other countries traditionally fish there and that is why those who have been there prior to the arbitral ruling, as the arbitral ruling says, can fish,” he explained.
The previous administration claimed that only Filipinos can enjoy exclusive sovereign rights to exploit natural resources within the 200-nautical mile EEZ.
On July 2016, the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China's historical claims to nearly the entire South China Sea and clarified Manila's maritime entitlements. Beijing does not recognize the ruling.
The Duterte administration set aside the ruling, calling the Chinese government a “friend” they don’t want to offend and choose to instead have negotiations over the issue. Ella Dionisio/DMS