Group supports house resolution urging gov’t to regain control over West Ph Sea
Manila, Philippines — The Philippines’ biggest federation of militant small fishermen are backing the House Resolution No. 1171 filed by Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat and lawmakers from the Makabayan Coalition, in the House of Representatives, urging the national government to ‘regain control and authority’ over the Chinese-occupied Panatag Shoal (internationally known as Scarborough Shoal), and Kalayaan Island Group (KIG, part of Spratyl Islands), amid the latest aggressive measures of Beijing.
On April 18, a Chinese state media China Global Television Network (CGTN) announced the establishment of its newest administrative districts in the contested South China Sea; the Xisha district and the Nansha district.
Xisha district will cover the Panatag Shoal, a resource-rich fishing grounds located 128-nautical mile off the province of Zambales. The Nansha district, on the otherhand, will cover major parts of the Kalayaan Group of Islands, namely, the Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) as Yongshu Residential Community, Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) as Meiji Jiao, Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) as Zhuibi Jiao, Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef) as Huayang Jiao, and Johnson South Reef as Chigua Jiao. They are all part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf, as per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which invalidates China’s 9-dash line historic claim in the nearly entire South China Sea.
“Legally, politically, historically, and morally, the West Philippine Sea is ours and ours alone. China doesn’t have any rights to claim it and harass the Filipino fishers in our very own traditional fishing grounds,” Fernando Hicap, national chairman of the fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA backed the said house resolution drafted by the legislative group of Anakpawis Party-list and finalized by the office of Bayan Muna Rep. Cullamat and the Makabayan bloc, to which the group is affiliated with, for the interest and welfare of Filipino fisherfolks, national patrimony, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.
The PAMALAKAYA fishers’ group slated the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte for its ‘criminal neglect and incompetence’ in upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights against China. The progressive group said that “if only the Duterte government actively asserts our sovereign rights against China, we don’t need to resort to any other legal means because we’ve already won in the international tribunal favoring our claim in the contested waters in 2016”.
“We don’t need diplomatic protests, legislative resolutions, or any other legal measures because the international court of arbitration has already ruled the sea row in favor to us,” Hicap addded.
PAMALAKAYA said that aside from China, the Duterte government itself has been also “disregarding” the international arbitration verdict.
“It was Duterte’s submissive foreign policies towards China that strengthen the latter’s aggression and irrational claim over our waters. President Duterte himself is an enabler of Chinese intervention in our marine territory,” ended Hicap. ###
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