Manila, Philippines – Militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Wednesday slammed the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippine waters, exactly a month after about 200 Chinese vessels were spotted at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) in the West Philippine Sea.
Believed to be manned by Chinese militias, some of the vessels have already left the Julian Felipe Reef, but only moved out to different areas within the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s been a month of a perfectly fair weather and yet these Chinese vessels purportedly seeking shelter from rough seas are still in our territorial waters for unspecified yet alarming reason. We demand these Chinese vessels to get 0ut of our waters now as they have no right to overstay here,” Pedro Gonzales, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chairperson Emeritus said on an online presser today.
“No one buys the narrative that Chinese vessels are only seeking shelter, because it’s a blatant display of military might bordering to military aggression,” Gonzales added.
Refuting the claim of the Chinese Embassy to the Philippines that Julian Felipe Reef is part of China’s Nansha Islands, PAMALAKAYA said the submerged feature is located 175 nautical miles from the town of Bataraza, Palawan, compared to its 638-nautical mile distance off China’s southern Hainan island.
Moreover, PAMALAKAYA asked the Chinese envoy to review the 2016-ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which invalidated China’s sweeping claim on nearly the entire South China Sea, which includes 80% of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The fishers’ group said that while there may have been evidence that Chinese fishermen had utilized the said feature, it “can’t be the basis of China for claiming maritime zones”.
“This is a reminder to the Chinese envoy Huang Xilian that all historic rights and claims in the EEZ were extinguished upon the effectivity of the international law of the sea. Historic claim can’t just generate a legal claim, a binding international law does. Mr. Huang should’ve known that being an international diplomat,” Gonzales ended. ###