Develop a West Philippine Sea utilization plan, President Duterte urged
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Rodrigo Duterte to develop a utilization plan consists of detailed measures on how we should maximize our resources in the West Philippine Sea.
During President Duterte’s state visit in China last October 18-21, he didn’t raise the sea row formally but rather, scheduled a separate meeting that will discuss the issue of the territorial dispute.
90% of the South China Sea is being claimed by China through its 9-dash line theory, including the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 150-nautical mile extended continental shelf (ECS). The long dispute poses threat among the Filipino fishermen as they are consecutively barred from entering in the Scarborough Shoal where China is building its military outposts through artificial islands.
“We are saddened for the President just let this important issue swift away without coming up with a formal agreement. He missed the boat when he had already come face to face with the Chinese President Xi Jinping yet he didn’t raise the issue of the sea row that for years now, has been affecting the livelihood of the Filipino fishermen,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson said in a statement.
Despite the international tribunal’s unanimous decision favoring the Philippines’ claim in the West Philippine Sea on July 12, China refuses the decision and has been viciously preventing the Filipino fishermen to sail and fish in their traditional fishing grounds. Last harassment incident was on October 4 when Chinese coast guards drove away Filipino fishers from entering Scarborough Shoal.
Meanwhile, the fisherfolk group is hopeful that Duterte administration will pursue the peaceful negotiation with China regarding the contested waters and will assert to the latter the historical and political rights of our Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. President Duterte should not let China use its promise economic aid in the country to advance its geopolitical agenda especially its claim in the West Philippine Sea.
Pamalakaya said a comprehensive and detailed utilization plan in our abundant resources in the West Philippine Sea through the backing of international tribunal’s decision might help in asserting our sovereignty and territorial rights. This utilization plan must forge and fuel our domestic industry that could be a stepping stone towards a patriotic foreign policy. ###