Palace says it's "big thing" that Filipinos can now fish around Scarborough
Malacanang said on Thursday that it is a "big thing" that Filipino fishermen can now fish around Scarborough Shoal even if not inside its lagoon despite the presence of Chinese vessels in the area.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement following an ABS-CBN report, quoting Carlo Montehermozo, a Filipino fisherman, that Chinese vessels still shoo them away at times when they were fishing near the Scarborough Shoal.
"The point is, before we can't go to Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal). That's a big thing...but the difference, Carlo, before and now, now your fishing is a matter of right because of the decision of the Hague Tribunal. And even if China said it does not recognize the Hague tribunal, they allow you to fish," Roque said in a televised press briefing.
Roque recalled that during the height of the tension in the West Philippine Sea in the previous administration, the Chinese coast guard shooed the Filipino fishermen away from the shoal using water canon.
But as per ABS-CBN report, Montehermozo claimed that there were still instances that up to now the Chinese drove them away and they were not even allowed inside the lagoon of the Scarborough Shoal.
Roque said that no one, including the Chinese, is allowed inside the lagoon.
Montehermozo also called President Rodrigo Duterte a joke after the President recently admitted that his campaign promise to ride a jet ski and plant the Philippine flag in the Spratly Islands was just a pure joke and those who believed it were stupid.
Meanwhile, Roque reiterated that despite the artificial islands built by China in areas within the execlusive economic zone of the Philippines in South China Sea, it did not mean that Beijing has the title over the area.
He explained that under the international law, that territories acquired through conquest will never ripen into title.
"So, don't worry, even if there is a status quo that their (China's) artificial islands are there, if they don't have the legal basis to possess that, it doesn't mean that even if they are strong and we cannot shoo them away, the territory is already theirs. So, in that sense, the international law assured us, 'might will not always be right' because territory acquired through conquest will never ripen into title," he stressed.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea including areas within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone. Celerina Monte/DMS