PH eyes provisional fishing rights deal with China—Yasay
The Philippines is set to sign a provisional agreement with China on sharing traditional fishing rights in the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said on Tuesday.
During the appropriations committee hearing at the House of Representatives on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) proposed P16.62-billion budget for 2017, Yasay said the Philippines would like China to agree with the provisional rights until both countries arrive at a more permanent solution to the conflict.
The Philippine government is seeking a fishing rights deal with China while Filipinos fishermen were still being forcefully expelled by the Chinese Coast Guard to fish in the West Philippine Sea although the country has won its maritime dispute with China.
In a historic decision, the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in the Hague, The Netherlands, ruled that China’s historic nine-dash line claiming almost all the South China Sea has no historic and legal basis and that the West Philippine Sea falls within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Yasay said he hoped the agremeent may be signed before President Rodrigo Duterte visits China to start the bilateral talks.
“We are even thinking about the possibility in the future for the President to make the visit to China. But we would hope that before this visit can be made, these provisional arrangements can be done with the end in view of beginning formal talks for the resolution of this dispute,” Yasay said.
Duterte has said he does not want to wage a “bloody” war against China which is far more militarily equipped than the Philippines. During the National Heroes Day rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday, Duterte appealed to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
“I hope the Chinese may find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos. I hope you treat us [as] your brothers and not enemies and take note of our plight,” Duterte said in front of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua during his speech at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Yasay said the Philippines has no intention of waging an armed encounter with China following its victory in the maritime case.
“We will not be engaging China in any shooting war in this particular instance. We will exercise maximum tolerance, restraint and sobriety for this purpose. Our task at this point is to make sure that the diplomatic processes that we will be embarking and continue to embark will result in the kind of objectives we would like to achieve,” Yasay said. RAM/rga
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