Fisherfolk slams China’s military bases in Kalayaan Islands
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) lashes out at China over the ongoing construction of military facilities in the three major reefs in Spratly Group of Islands, a part of the West Philippine Sea located 280 nautical miles away from the province of Palawan.
New satellite images show missile shelters and radar communications facilities are being built on the Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Mischief (Panganiban), and Subi (Zamora) reefs in the country’s Kalayaan group of islands.
For decades now, China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea using their 9-dash line assumption as historical basis.
PAMALAKAYA said China has been disrespectful ever since to our territory despite the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international law which states that the waters being claimed by China in the South China Sea are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS). The group said the country’s legal basis to claim the waters strengthens when we won before the international court of arbitration in June last year.
“China shows no respect in our sovereign rights and territory by continuously installing artificial islands intended for military use. We demand China to humbly give up its unjust claim over our territory because they deeply destroy our marine resources that would eventually backlash to the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk and to the country’s food security,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said West Philippine Sea contributes 20% to the country’s annual fish production.
The fisherfolk group urges President Rodrigo Duterte to flex some muscles to enforce our rights in the West Philippine Sea by challenging China to leave our marine territory and completely stop all its reclamation activities that destroy our reefs.
“If this aggressive claim of China continues, then our efforts to make our fisherfolk able to navigate in the West Philippine Sea will eventually become useless. What else will remain for our fisherfolk if China has already exploited and plundered our marine resources? For the sake of Filipino fishers, President Duterte must stand against China and act swiftly and decisively on this matter,” Hicap ended. ###