Philippine Rise belongs to Ph – Fisherfolk to Malacañang
Manila, Philippines — The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday lambasted the Malacanañg Palace over its pro-China statement stating that the Philippines can’t claim the Philippine Rise.
Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare resource rich underwater plateau located opposite to the disputed South China Sea, it has been declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in April 2012 as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Through the Executive Order No. 25 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May last year, the undersea feature has been renamed from Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
A joint research between the Philippines and China has been approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which was opposed by the fishers group, saying the joint research blanketed with the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) is a pretext of China for another occupation activity in our marine territory.
“It appears that renaming the resource-rich feature to Philippine Rise is futile; what’s in the name when you will not exercise your sovereign rights and even allow other countries to claim and exploit our abundant marine resources under the guise of “joint research”. The renaming of Benham Rise was supposed to strengthen our claim on it, not to surrender,”
“Instead of crafting a comprehensive plan on how we can utilize and exploit its marine resources and gas reserves for the benefit of the country, the government has almost abandoned our legal claim,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group chided Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque for defending the construction of Chinese military facility in Kagitingan Reef. Roque was once a staunch critic of Chinese intervention in the country; he even assisted fisherfolk in Zambales to sue Beijing before the United Nations (U.N.).
The fisherfolk group said Roque does not only reecho President Duterte’s statement, but he seems to be the acting spokesperson of the Chinese government to spread disinformation that will justify their continuous occupation in our waters.
“Roque’s soft approach towards China is a major setback. It is clear that his anti-Chinese intervention posture before was nothing but opportunistic act and mere publicity stunt for him to gain public attention and reach his political ambitions,”
“Both West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise are legally, politically, and morally ours. We will assert our entire rightful claim over our fishing grounds with all our might,” ended Hicap. ###