China urged to pay compensation for damaged reefs in West Philippine Sea
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) has asked China a compensation for the damage they brought in the resource-rich West Philippine Sea, which covers at least 124 square kilometres of coral reefs (12, 400 hectares) and causes the fish catch to shrink by 13.5% from 2005-2014, and by another 4.3% at the height of its aggressive occupation in 2015-2016, affecting at least 3 million Filipino fisherfolk and fishworkers.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA urged President Rodrigo Duterte on his 5th state visit to Beijing to make his trip useful by strongly demanding China to immediately and unconditionally leave the Philippine waters in compliance with the decision of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that invalidated the 9-dash line historic claim by China.
The fisherfolk group said around 200 Chinese fishing vessels continue to poach within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf, limiting the access of Filipino fishers their traditional fishing grounds.
In a 2016 decision of the PCA, The-Hague based PCA confirmed that through its land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, China is responsible for 99% of the overall damage to coral reefs within the Spratly Islands (Kalayaan Group of Islands) that covers at least 124 square kilometres (12, 400 hectares).
“China owes the Philippines and its people a large fortune courtesy of its destruction of our marine resources and rampant violation of the Filipinos’ fishing rights in the West Philippine Sea,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
(Malaki ang utang ng Tsina sa Pilipinas dahil sa pagwasak nito sa ating yamag dagat at laganap na paglabag sa karapatan sa pangingisda ng mga Pilipino sa West Philippine Sea,”)
Still non-compliant with the 2016 arbitration ruling, the fisherfolk group said that although “it was already expected, President Duterte’s subservience to Beijing is still to blame as one of the main reasons why China feels entitled to reject the tribunal ruling”.
“How can China recognize our winning in the arbitral tribunal when it knows that our own President is yearning for its direct investment and loans? It entitles China not to comply with any law that does not favour them. Hawak nila tayo sa leeg,” Hicap, a former Anakpawis Partylist Representative added.
(“Paano naman kikilalanin ng Tsina ang pagkakapanalo natin sa arbitral tribunal kung alam nilang ang ating Pangulo mismo ay naglalaway sa kanilang direktang puhunan at pautang? Binibigyan nito ng posisyon ang Tsina na ‘wag sundin ang kahit anong batas na hindi papabor dito. Hawak nila tayo sa leeg,”)
PAMALAKAYA called the Filipinos to demand accountability from China for the Recto Bank incident and seek justice for the Filipino fishermen whose rights are being violated by China, dismantle military facilities built in artificial islands in the Philippine territory, and withdraw its giant fleets disguised as fishing vessels. ###