Duterte: Filipinos may soon fish again in Scarborough Shoal
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said Filipinos might soon exercise fishing rights again in the disputed Scarborough Shoal after his meeting with Chinese authorities.
Duterte made the remark during his visit to typhoon-hit Tuguegarao in Cagayan, where he touched on his recent state visit to China.
“Wala po kaming pinag-usapang armas, wala kaming pinag-usapang giyera giyera. Pinag-usapan namin paano tayo magtutulungan. We will just wait for a few more days, baka makabalik na tayo doon sa Scarborough shoal, sa pangingisda ng ating mga kababayan,” Duterte said in his speech before victims of typhoon “Lawin.”
(We did not talk about arms, we didn’t talk about war. We talked about how we can help each other. We will just wait for a few more days, we might return to Scarborough Shoal, fishing by our countrymen.)
Upon returning from Beijing, Duterte on Friday said he raised the Scarborough Shoal issue in “private talks” with Chinese authorities but refused to elaborate on their meeting, saying he was leaving the matter to them.
“Yes of course we did (bring up the issue). I leave it to the Chinese authorities what they will do in the next few days. Napag-usapan namin pero no… I leave it to them… But tignan natin (We talked about it but I leave it to them… But let’s see). Let’s see what develops in the days to come,” he said in a press briefing in Davao.
Duterte earlier said the Philippines “cannot win” the case of the Scarborough or the Panatag Shoal, the traditional fishing ground that China seized from the country after a two-month standoff in 2012. The President said he has a “good feeling” the Philippines will be “OK” with China as long as Filipinos do not claim Panatag.
The United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague ruled that all claimants can fish at the Panatag Shoal, but China rejected the ruling and drove Filipino fishermen away from the shoal.
The Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the tribunal, which invalidated Beijing’s claims to almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea. JE/rga
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