Joint exploration in West Philippine Sea immoral and unconstitutional – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The national alliance of fisherfolk Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday opposed the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to engage in a joint gas and oil exploration with China in the contested West Philippine Sea, saying this means total surrender of our territory and patrimony to Beijing.
West Philippine Sea is part of the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS), therefore, only the Philippines has the right to explore, develop, and utilize its natural resources as stated in the National Economy and Patrimony provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
The fisherfolk group claims we have the entire historical, legal, and political basis to exercise our right over the disputed West Philippine Sea and they are dismayed by how President Duterte abandons these bases.
“After all the hard work and tireless efforts we’ve made to make the world recognize our right in West Philippine Sea, the President seems to waste it all by approving joint oil and gas exploration in our water. President Duterte has gone overboard to compromise our territory; he does nothing to stop Chinese reclamation activities in West Philippine Sea that threaten its marine biodiversity, he lets giant Chinese fishing vessels to exploit our marine resources leaving less for Filipino fishermen, and now he wants to open the area for unequal joint exploration. With China’s more sophisticated exploration technology, there would be nothing left to us,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group challenges President Duterte to turn his iron fist and authoritarian rule towards China to actively assert and defend our territory.
PAMALAKAYA said China’s economic aid and investment commitments to President Duterte’s pet projects should not lead to total sell-out of our sovereignty and territory.
“We challenge President Duterte; where have all his guts and arrogance when he speaks to assail his political opponents gone? For crumbs of investments and funding on his dream infrastructure projects, Duterte has ultimately set aside the clamor of Filipino fisherfolk to stop China’s unbridled occupation in our fishing waters,” Hicap lamented. ###