Fishers group press for diplomatic protest over presence of Chinese ships in Ayungin Shoal

Fishers group press for diplomatic protest over presence of Chinese ships in Ayungin Shoal

Manila, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should pursue filing a diplomatic protest over the presence of Chinese Coast Guard ships 4-5 nautical miles away from the Philippine-owned Ayungin Shoal (internationally known as Second Thomas Shoal), an activist fisherfolk group said on Wednesday.

Fernando Hicap, former Anakpawis Partylist solon and present National Chairperson of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), said that “the presence of Chinese ships in our marine territory has been tolerated by the Duterte administration akin to normalizing it at the aim of making the public immune or accustomed to, when it is a serious violation of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“According to Mr. Locsin, many diplomatic protests were filed but they remained shady or concealed from the public eye and the fact that the recipient country never responded positively, this raises questions on the nature and legitimacy of these protests,” Hicap said, referring to the claim of Secretary Locsin that the Duterte administration has already filed more or less 60 diplomatic protests since 2016.

“Diplomatic protest seems to lose its bearing courtesy of the President Duterte’s continued tolerance of Chinese incursions, especially when his supposed end game venue, during his several visits to China, he simply swallowed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s outright dismissal of the arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines,” added Hicap.

The fisherfolk leader added that Duterte’s prostrate response of China’s rejection of The-Hague ruling actually made diplomatic protests “useless.”

“Bilateral talks with China on the issue of sea row is already outmoded and would be futile, especially when President Duterte relies on them for funding his infrastructure projects, to the point of compromising our national sovereignty and patrimony,” added Hicap.

The fisherfolk group said that if the Duterte administration is serious about these protests, it should push for multilateral venues, at least with the claimant countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and at most the United Nations (U.N.), and seek an international broad support from them. ###

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