Out of friendship, PH will ‘tolerate’ China to fish in country’s EEZ – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has said the Philippines would not stop China from fishing in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) even as the maritime dispute between Manila and Beijing continues.
“I don’t think China would do that (stop fishing in Philippine territory). Why? Because we’re friends,” Duterte told reporters Monday night when asked if the Philippine government would prevent Chinese fishers from venturing into Philippine territorial waters.
The 22 Filipino fishermen whose boat was rammed by a Chinese trawler at Recto Bank has urged Duterte to declare the area an exclusive fishing ground for Filipinos.
EEZ is the 200-nautical mile from the Philippine coast.
In a Palace briefing Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s move to allow the Chinese to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ was out of friendship.
“He said they will not allow it, but as far as they’re concerned, they have a historical right to that,” Panelo said, referring to China’s fishing operations in the South China Sea, which stretch to the Philippines’ EEZ.
“Number two, we will allow it kasi we’re friends naman, ‘di magbigayan muna tayo – parang ganoon ang punto ni Presidente,” he added.
The Palace official said the decision of Duterte to allow Chinese fishermen in the country’s EEZ was not treasonous.
“How can it be treason when it is allowed?” he said, adding that such is allowed under international law.
Pressed if the Philippines is now granting fishing rights to China in Manila’s territorial waters, he said: “Hindi naman ganoon… Siguro hindi—kumbaga parang ito-tolerate mo lang. It’s not necessarily grant.”
But Panelo said he would still have to ask the President if this is now a policy statement of the government.
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