Dispatch a maritime team to dispel foreign vessels in our EEZ – fishers demand

Manila, Philippines – The maritime authorities, specifically the Philippine Navy, should dispatch a team that would drive away the vessels spotted in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA), as foreign vessels, most likely Chinese-flagged, increased by more than 100 ships from May to June 17 in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said that the Philippine Navy and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), both have jurisdiction to the country’s EEZ, should look into the reports of the increasing presence of foreign vessels in the Philippine waters.

“It is without a doubt that the vessels detected to be lingering in our territory are Chinese-owned as they are the only country capable of massing and has a consistent presence in our waters. They may be part of the 220 Chinese vessels spotted in Julian Felipe Reef last March,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

The fishers’ group also questioned the maritime authorities on why they haven’t monitored and prevented the entry of the foreign vessels.

“Our maritime authorities seem to be sleeping in oblivion while foreign vessels are rampantly entering our territorial waters for unspecified yet alarming reasons. We expect now that the government should do decisive action to drive away these ships by sending maritime authorities to enforce the basic rules of engagement leading to expulsion of these vessels,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon, also blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for kowtowing to foreign aggressors that give them leeway to “enter and exploit our maritime resources with all their might and without accountability.”

“Duterte’s submissive foreign policies have emboldened China and other countries to become more aggressive in our territorial waters. We demand that these vessels be urgently expelled in our waters as they have been occupying the traditional fishing grounds of our fisherfolks,” ended Hicap. ###

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