Fishers’ Earth Day Call: Condemn Chinese occupation of South China Sea amid global pandemic!

Fishers’ Earth Day Call: Condemn Chinese occupation of South China Sea amid global pandemic!

Manila, Philippines – In time of 50th anniversary of the Earth Day, the militant fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) lambasted China’s ‘heightened and constant occupation’ of the South China Sea, amid the global health crisis caused by the pandemic corona virus disease (COVID-19).

Calling it as ‘sheer opportunism’, PAMALAKAYA slammed the recent developments of Chinese maritime aggression, including the construction of research stations in Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Zamora (Subi) reefs, both parts of the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea. China has also earned the ire of Vietnam after announcing that it would be setting up two administrative districts in the South China Sea – the Nansha District in Spratlys and Xisha District in Paracel Islands, where Vietnam has been upholding its sovereign claim.

“In the midst of a global health crisis caused by the pandemic, China has never ceased its expansion activities in the South China Sea. It deserves an international condemnation for taking advantage of the emergency situation to further its usurpation of marine territory,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

“China should be reminded over and over that no avenue is recognizing its claim over the almost entire South China Sea,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.

As the theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action, PAMALAKAYA asserted the significance of protecting the West Philippine Sea, especially its marine resources, as China’s cost to coral reefs due to its reclamation activities is estimated at P33 billion per year. The group added that at least 40, 000 acres of reefs were already destroyed in the course of Chinese reclamation, affecting not only the marine life, but also the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk.

“West Philippine Sea is an integral part of the country’s marine ecosystem, providing livelihood for our fisherfolk and substantial contribution to our food security,” Hicap added.

“Climate action is the only legitimate response of nations and their people to the worsening climate crisis. Its ultimate goal must be to attain justice from the historical economic and environmental plunder of developed countries in underdeveloped nations. We are one with the global voices calling for climate justice and advancing climate action to address and ultimately curb the devastating impacts of climate change,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.

Lastly, the fisherfolk group dared the Duterte government to emulate Vietnam’s courage by ‘castigating China’s opportunistic move in violating our national sovereignty.’

“Like how Vietnam bravely denounces China’s aggression, the Philippine government should not hesitate to deplore China by lodging a formal complaint before any legal and diplomatic venue, and up to the court of public and international opinion,” ended Hicap. ###

Fisherfolk from Bacoor City call for “China, Out of Philippine Waters!” in marking the 2020 Earth Day.
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