For genuine independence, “Hands off the Philippines!” – fisherfolk group

Fishermen's group Pamalakaya holds a protest outside Chinese Consulate office in Makati City on Friday to denounce the Chinese Navy's action prohibiting Filipino fishermen in contested waters in the Spratly Islands. Photo: ABS-CBN News
Fishermen’s group Pamalakaya holds a protest outside Chinese Consulate office in Makati City on Friday to denounce the Chinese Navy’s action prohibiting Filipino fishermen in contested waters in the Spratly Islands. Photo: ABS-CBN News

June 12, 2015

For genuine independence, “Hands off the Philippines!” – fisherfolk group

Manila, Philippines – the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) today joins and supports the wide protest in front of Chinese Consulate and United States embassy to assert the independence and sovereignty of our country. The protest which has the theme “Hands off the Philippines” was led by activists and nationalist groups.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chairperson Salvador France condemned the government of China in its aggressive usurpation in the large part of the South China Sea which covers 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. The group said that China has no historical and legal basis regarding its 9-dash line theory which claims the almost 90% of the South China Sea.

“If we follow China’s 9-dash line map, they will own 90% of the South China Sea which means a loss of 80% of the 200-nautical mile EEZ and the additional 150-nautical mile Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines. This is a huge loss to our territory including the Reed Bank and Malampaya.” France quoted.

The seizure of West Philippine Sea by China based on its 9-dash line assumption is a violation and a breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This high covenant dictates the fundamental standards and legal principles on matters of disputes on ocean territories and boundaries, the group added.

France said, “There are no other countries that recognize the 9-dash line premise aside from China. It already took over Panatag Shoal and Ayungin Shoal which are part of EEZ of the Philippines.”

PAMALAKAYA also denounced the activities of China in the West Philippine Sea especially the vast reclamation which greatly damages the reefs, islets and other marine biodiversity. The group firmly states that not only the marine environment but also the small Filipino fisherfolk will be affected by the great destruction of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea.

The group identified some abundant reefs in the West Philippine Sea that are already under reclamation of China to be used as their advance command and military outposts. This includes Mischief Reef, Mabini Reef, Subi Reef, Keenan Reef, and the Kagitingan Reef where China’s air strip is currently being constructed. All of the mentioned reefs are within the Philippines’ EEZ that are aggressively taken over by China.

“The reefs and other rock formation in the West Philippine Sea reclaimed by China are great fishing grounds and rich sources of marine life. But due to China’s destructive reclamation activities, these pose negative impact on the fish production and other marine resources which are the only source of livelihood of small fisherfolk in the country.“ France added.

Moreover, with the presence of Chinese Coast Guards in the West Philippine Sea, small fisherfolk suffer from threat and harassment while fishing in the areas being claimed by China. It is noted by the group that there were many incidents of water cannon bombing in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese Coast Guards. The last water cannon incident was last April wherein 80 fishermen were forced out from the Panatag Shoal.

“We are urging the Chinese Government to stop harassing and prohibiting our people from fishing in the area which has been their source of livelihood ever since. It is the right of our small fisherfolk to enter freely in our own territory without the fear of being harassed by foreign invaders,” France stated.

The group firmly affirms that the Philippines own the West Philippine Sea and China does not have any legal, historical and political basis of its ownership on the large part of the disputed area.

Stop meddling

PAMALAKAYA also slammed the United States for meddling on the issue between the PhIlippines and China, saying that Philippines can stand on its own without any pretentious help especially from the US. The group believed that the US will not really help the Philippines against China in the dispute because the US, who is a huge debtor to China, has a more economic interest in China than the Philippines.

“So there is no way that these Yankees will help us. President Aquino is being foolish to believe that the United States will waste its military resources and engage a war with China.” France said.

The US is just posturing that they will defend the Philippines so they can justify and increase their military presence in the archipelago and moreover, for their imperialist interest in China and not really for our national interest.

The group said that in the end, with our self reliance and through collective actions, we can advance even our external military defense to guard ourselves from external conflicts without relying from the help of a bigger and powerful country like the United States which only has a hidden agenda.

“We should not choose between China and US because neither of these two super powers will uphold our national interest but instead, they are bigger and more serious threat to our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” France ended. ###

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