New Coast Guard head slammed over joint exploration remark
Manila, Philippines – On his very first day as the new commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Vice Admiral Joel Garcia has earned the ire of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) over his statement favoring the joint oil and gas exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.
“This early, the new head of the PCG has already exposed himself as a disgrace to his institution that is tasked to enforce national laws in the seas, including the exclusive economic zone. For the long time, the Filipino fishers who are the frontline casualties of Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea were never protected by our maritime armed forces, more so now that the new PCG commandant has already shown subservience to the foreign aggressors,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement issued to media outfits.
PAMALAKAYA reiterated its strong opposition against the joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea, especially with the country who does not recognize the Philippines’ legal and historic claim over the resource-rich marine waters.
“Nothing favorable for the country could come out from this shady and non-transparent join exploration deal with China who is geared to rake profit out of our marine and energy resources in the West Philippine Sea. Moreover, the deal runs counter to the provision of the constitution on national patrimony, which has already been stressed by no less than the retired acting Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio himself,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added, stating the provision in the Constitution that says that “the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources” and “the State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Lastly, the fisherfolk group dared commandant to stick with his duty in enforcing national laws, such as Philippine Fisheries Code, environmental and anti-poaching laws against intruding Chinese vessels, instead of mere focusing to narcotics in the seas.
“He has been appointed to a strategic position in the government, and yet his thrust is limited to curtailing illegal drugs passing through the waters when bigger threats such as Chinese aggression should be primarily addressed,” ended Hicap. ###