Sea Code of Conduct will nullify international arbitration verdict – fisherfolk group

Sea Code of Conduct will nullify international arbitration verdict – fisherfolk group

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) rejects the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea which is part of the agenda in the upcoming 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be held in Manila from November 12-14.

A Code of Conduct is a set of rules and guidelines aimed to address the freedom of navigation of claimant countries in the disputed South China Sea.

In a statement, the fisherfolk group said the Philippines does not necessarily need to ratify in the Code of Conduct because the country has already won the arbitration case against China over the South China Sea. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) last year has invalidated China’s “9-dash line” claim over the entire South China Sea and has favored Philippines’ exclusive sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS).

PAMALAKAYA said that entering into another set of rules will negate and set aside our winning in the international court.

We have already proven our rightful claim over our exclusive economic zone through the decision of the international court of arbitration, there is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to agree on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea because it is nothing but a trap for China to monopolize its claim over the disputed waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement, saying that the Code of Conduct is neither legally-binding nor enforceable.

Despite the international decision, China has yet to give up its irrational claim over our territory by continuing to impose its 9-dash line assumption. It has built permanent structures on our islands that host its military facilities and reclamation activities are still ongoing. The group fears the long-term degrading effect of reclamation in the marine resources that would also pose threat to the livelihood of Filipino fishermen who depend on Scarborough shoal as their traditional fishing ground. Scarborough shoal is located 124-nautical mile off the mainland in the province of Zambales.

Because it is a Chinese-made written code, it would surely be self-serving, one-sided, and deliberately deceitful; it is an initiative of China to get away with the international tribunal and continue its irrational claim and destructive activities in the South China Sea, such as heavy militarization and unwarranted fishing expeditions,” added Hicap.

The group instead urged President Duterte to enforce the international tribunal ruling and actively and decisively assert to China our right in the West Philippine Sea. ###

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