Fisherfolk warns Duterte on Silk Road-deals

Fisherfolk warns Duterte on Silk Road-deals

File photo of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shown the way by Chinese President Xi Jinping before a signing ceremony held in Beijing
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) is shown the way by Chinese President Xi Jinping before a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. To match Special Report PHILIPPINES-DRUGS/CHINA REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool/File Photo

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday cautioned President Rodrigo Duterte on the economic and trade deals he would enter with China that could compromise our sovereign and territorial rights.

President Rodrigo Duterte is currently in Beijing for a two-day summit on China’s foreign policy program or the Silk Road dubbed as One Belt, One Road Initiative.

PAMALAKAYA said it is hard to trust that China would benevolently grant billions of dollar aid to the Philippines when we have unresolved issue with the former especially in the disputed West Philippine Sea. Beijing has been posing its irrational claim over our exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf that had resulted to the deprivation of Filipino fishers to enter their traditional fishing ground. Although China has allowed Filipino fisherfolk to fish in Scarborough Shoal since last year, they have yet to completely surrender their claim over the waters; they even continue to build permanent structures in the area.

Given the unresolved sea row and China’s forceful claim over our water, it is improbable that they will charitably provide assistance to us. We fear that the assistance like infrastructure projects that China has to offer will require our complete surrender of our territory in the West Philippine Sea,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

The fisherfolk group said history shows that flooding our country with foreign investments does not help our economy to advance; instead, these unfair economic and trade deals retain embedded with foreign investments retain our weak economy backward because we merely rely to foreign aid without developing our own basic industries.

We urge President Duterte not to get dazzled by China’s billions of aid, instead, he must make good on his promise in pursuing independent foreign policy for genuine development. He must also actively assert our rightful claim in the West Philippine Sea to save our marine resources from further destruction due to China’s rampant reclamation activities,” ended Hicap. ###

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