PH gov’t urged to uphold South China Sea rights
Regardless of Filipino fishermen’s return to the Scarborough Shoal, a Catholic bishop on Thursday called on the Duterte administration to stand by the Philippines’ rights over the disputed areas in the South China Sea as affirmed by the historic July ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the bishops conference’s Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said he was hoping that President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China last month cleared the air on clashing claims between the countries and established the Philippines’ ownership.
“Mabuting balita para sa ating mga mangingisda na sila ay makapaghanapbuhay at meron silang mapagkakakitaan na sila ay makapangisda roon. Pero tandaan natin, ito ay atin at hindi natin dapat i – give up ang ating pag -aari at kung ano ang atin. Kung ano ang naging hatol doon sa Hague ay bigyan ng katuparan at ito ay dapat kamtin,” Santos said over church-run Radyo Veritas.
(It’s good news for our fishermen that they can fish in the Scarborough Shoal to earn a living. But let us remember, it’s ours and we should not give up our ownership. The ruling of the Hague tribunal must be upheld and we should assert our ownership.)
Filipino fishers returned to the Scarborough Shoal following Duterte’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during his Beijing trip, where Philippine officials sealed billions worth of investment projects and credit pledges. The Philippine government said no written agreements were signed for the granting of access.
However, Chinese Coast Guard ships were still guarding the shoal known locally as Panatag, a traditional fishing ground that China seized from the country after a two-month standoff in 2012.
The United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, The Netherlands that invalidated China’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea ruled that all claimant countries can fish in the Panatag Shoal, but Beijing rejected the ruling and drove Filipino fishermen away from the shoal.
Santos said it would be best if China would recognize the tribunal ruling affirming the Philippines’ rights over the disputed areas.
“Nararapat lamang na simula ng pumunta ang ating Pangulo sa Tsina dapat na maganda na ang pakikipag-usap sa ganitong kalagayan at katayuan. Dapat rin nating igalang ang batas na nasa ating pabor at ang desisyon ay para sa atin. Ito ay dapat nating ganapin na itong pag-aari natin ay hindi natin dapat ipagsawalang bahala, hindi natin dapat isantabi, hindi dapat tayo makipag– kumpirmiso. Dapat natin itong ingatan, alagaan at ipaglaban ang ating karapatan, ang ating pag-aari, ang ating lupain at karagatan,” the bishop added.
(Since our President visited China, there should be good negotiations over this issue. We should respect the law which ruled in our favor. We should not neglect, set aside or compromise our ownership of the area. We should take care of it and fight for our right of ownership over our lands and seas.) RAM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.