Fishers to file complaint before UN on West PH dispute

Photo by Tyra Aquino/Bulatlat

The Chinese embassy issued a statement saying that it has allowed Filipino fishermen to fish in the West Philippine Sea “out of goodwill.”

By TYRA AQUINO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) declared that they will file a complaint before the United Nations (UN) Dispute Tribunal on the West Philippine Sea dispute.

Pamalakaya Chairperson Fernando Hicap said Pamalakaya “could not trust the Duterte administration to defend the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea.”

The group also denounced the Chinese harassment of Filipino fishers. A video obtained by GMA News showed a Chinese coast guard boarding a Filipino vessel to take the catch of fishermen.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Chinese coast guard has been conducting barter trade with Filipino fishermen.

“It’s not barter as what Harry Roque wanted us to believe. It’s not true that a fisherman would exchange his catch for noodles and water from the Chinese,” Hicap said in Filipino.

Roque also stated that no formal protest is needed against China since the Filipino fishermen were again allowed to fish after the Chinese blockade under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

Hicap said, Roque’s statement “proves that the government has no interest in defending the West Philippine Sea from plunder of marine resources and from militarization by China. ”

In 2015, Roque helped displaced Zambales fishermen file a human rights case against China before the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. He appealed for China to respect the rights of Filipino fishermen in the Scarborough Shoal.

Photo by Tyra Aquino/Bulatlat

‘Out of goodwill’

The Chinese embassy issued a statement saying that it has allowed Filipino fishermen to fish in the West Philippine Sea “out of goodwill.” The statement, issued on the Philippines’s 120th Independence Day, contradicts the claim of Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cayetano said the Philippines and China have settled a provisional fishing agreement as equal parties in Panatag Shoal.
The Chinese embassy also claims that they have “always acted in accordance with the law” and is committed to “strengthening China-Philippines relations.”

The ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 dismissed China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea. The Court also labeled it as a violation of the Philippine’s sovereign right.

Last June 11, Roque presented three fishermen in Malacañang to describe the real state of Panatag Shoal. One fisherman, Rommel Cejuela, said China has control over the Shoal. He also said that there is no Philippine Coast Guard in the area.
Pamalakaya’s complaint aims to assert legal claim over the West Philippine Sea.

“We must always remember that the Tribunal declared and decided that Filipinos have the sovereign right over the West Philippine Sea,” said Hicap. ()

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