China’s “Coast Guard Law” a threat to Filipino fishers; violates freedom of navigation – fishers’ group

China’s “Coast Guard Law” a threat to Filipino fishers; violates freedom of navigation – fishers’ group

Manila, Philippines – A group of small fishermen is urging the Philippine government to “publicly and strongly” denounce Beijing’s recently passed “Coast Guard Law”, empowering its coast guard to expel and fire at non-Chinese vessels and structures in maritime territory being “illegally” claimed by China.

The Coast Guard Law was passed on Friday, it empowers its coast guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea,”

In a statement on Monday, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), a progressive fishers’ organization consistently opposed to Chinese occupation of the West Philippine Sea, denounced what they call as a “severe measure imposed by the Chinese aggressors,”.

“The Coast Guard Law was obviously part of strengthening China’s naval forces to swarm the West Philippine Sea; it is virtually a declaration of war against countries that are legitimate claimants of the Chinese-claimed marine territory. We fervently condemn China’s egregious display of aggression and military might,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

The fisher’s group said that the measure “contradicts the principle of freedom of navigation recognized by international maritime law”.

PAMALAKAYA urged the Philippine government to categorically denounce China’s move, saying it is affront to the national sovereignty and moreover, poses “serious threat” to the Filipino fisherfolk who could be possible targets of Chinese naval forces.

“Chinese coast guards can just shoot anyone, armed or unarmed, in territorial waters that they illegally claim and occupy courtesy of this newly-passed law. This is a serious threat to Filipino fishers who would be conducting fishing expedition in our very own territorial waters. The Philippine government must decisively denounce this law and protect the Filipinos against Chinese aggressors,” Hicap added.

Lastly, PAMALAKAYA calls on other claimant countries of the South China Sea to “collectively assert” their respective sovereign rights and promote demilitarization and freedom of navigation in the contested waters. ###

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