Manila, Philippines – The strongest way to enforce the arbitral tribunal’s ruling on West Philippine Sea is to exploit and utilize its marine and aquatic resources, according to the progressive fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday, calling on the government to subsidize local commercial fishing vessels capable of fishing expedition within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“By subsidizing our local fishing fleets to engage in massive fishing expedition in the West Philippine Sea, the government is not only actively enforcing our legal claim over the resource-rich marine waters, but is also boosting the fishery production that will cater our domestic food needs,” Pedro Gonzales, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair emeritus said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said that through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the government should consult with fishing operators and fishing cooperatives in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog for the availability of commercial fishing vessels to be used on the expedition, production expenses, and the marketing distribution of marine products.
The fishers’ group noted that the proposed state-sponsored “West Philippine Sea fishing expedition” should be accompanied with active presence of maritime authorities to ensure safety of the fishing fleets against any China’s aggressive behavior.
“Given the antagonistic and aggressive behavior of China towards the Filipinos, the maritime authorities should likewise be mobilized to secure our large commercial fishing fleets in our EEZ,” Gonzales added.
PAMALAKAYA lamented that small fishers braving the West Philippine Sea have always been neglected of government support as aside from their lack of sufficient fishing technology, they are exposed to Chinese harassment and intimidation in their traditional fishing grounds.
“It is the state’s constitutional responsibility to uphold our national sovereignty and make the most of our natural resources by any means exclusively to Filipino citizens. We demand a whole-of-government approach in planning and utilizing our resources in the West Philippine Sea as a way of actively and productively asserting our territorial and sovereign rights to China,” ended Gonzales. ###