China , Philippines have “friendly” understanding on Scarborough : Esperon
Filipino fishermen are no longer being harassed by Chinese ships at the Scarborough Shoal as China and Philippines have a “friendly” understanding on the matter, a senior security official said on Monday.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said President Rodrigo Duterte negotiated the matter with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit in Beijing this month.
“There is no agreement… but the president believes that our fishermen will no longer be harassed there because this matter was already brought up,” Esperon said.
“It’s not because we were allowed because it is our historical right and it is part of our territory, historical rights and part of the 200 mile exclusive economic zone. So what was (sic) there now are just the coast guard of China . No more Navy (ships) and then our fishermen. They were not accosted. They were not driven away, so it means things are now friendly,” Esperon added.
Esperon said the development in the situation in Scarborough Shoal only shows that China is now respecting the traditional rights of the Filipino fishermen in the area.
“So now we are back to traditional fishing grounds. So it seems that they again recognized the traditional fishing ground… There is no talk on territorial rights, there is no talk on assertion of rights but they respect our traditional rights,” Esperon said.
“There was no agreement. There was no expressed agreement but it seems like the traditional rights of our fishermen are being respected. But the president reiterated that we won in the court. The other leader also reiterated that is historically (that is) their territory,” said Esperon.
“So that was not resolved. There was no resolution so why allow yourselves to be in that confrontational position when you can talk about economic relations, trade relations, so its win-win negotiation. But this is not to say that we have dropped our claim because we have asserted it also. We have asserted it. The president reiterated it,” Esperon added.
The presence of Chinese ships in the Scarborough Shoal started when the standoff between China and Philippines occurred after the Philippines apprehended Chinese poachers in the area in April 2012.
Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Chinese ships left the Scarborough shoal but their presence was again monitored last Saturday.
But the Chinese ships have not stopped Filipinos from fishing in the area. Robina Asido/DMS