Palace: OK to give trade partner China ‘some’ privileges
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte for allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) due to Manila and Beijing’s “friendship” and trade relations, Presidential Spokesperson Panelo said on Wednesday.
With the Philippines’ receiving economic perks from China, the Palace official said Duterte believed we should give “some” to China.
“Alam mo ang tinitingnan ko kung bakit si Presidente on the basis of his statement, kasi magkakaibigan tayo. At pag sinabi niyang magkakaibigan, tinitingnan ko ano bang naging base ng pagiging pagkakaibigan natin. Marami tayong trade relations, marami tayong negosasyon sa gobyerno ng Tsina upang paunlarin ang ating bansa. Kumbaga, meron tayong pakinabang sa kanila, baka sa punto ni Presidente eh magbigay din tayo ng konti sa kanila. Parang ganoon ang dating sa akin sa mga sinabi ni Presidente,” Panelo said.
(We are friends. We have numerous trade relations and negotiations with China aimed at developing our nation. We benefit from them, maybe the President believes that we should likewise give back.)
Panelo said that under the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), granting fishing rights to other nations is allowed.
Panelo did not elaborate on the said provision.
“Sinasabi ni Presidente na even under the UNCLOS eh puwede tayong magbigay ng pribilehiyo sa mga ibang bansa na mag-fish sa lugar ng EEZ,” he said in an interview over radio DZMM.
(The President said that under UNCLOS, we can grant fishing privileges to other nations.)
EEZ or the exclusive economic zone extends 200-nautical miles from the Philippines’ coastline.
Duterte’s remarks to allow China to fish in Philippine territorial waters drew flak from maritime experts.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the President’s decision was unconstitutional.
Manila and Beijing’s relations were again tested after a Chinese trawler rammed a fishing boat manned by 22 Filipinos at Recto Bank.
The Filipinos were abandoned at sea by the Chinese crew on the night of June 9.
The 22 Filipinos have urged Duterte to declare Recto Bank, an exclusive fishing ground for Filipinos.
But Duterte, who described the sinking of a Filipino boat as a “little maritime accident,” said China won’t allow itself to be banned from fishing in parts of Philippine EEZ, and would insist on their historical maritime rights in the area.
Despite criticism against Duterte’s handling of the Recto bank incident, Panelo asked the public to trust the President.
“Lahat ng mga ginagawa po ni Presidente ay binabalanse niya iyong kapakanan ng ating bansa, ang interest, at iyon ding magiging konsekuwensiya kung tayo ay hindi rin susunod sa mga patakaran na binibigay ng batas international,” he said.
“Sa madaling-sabi, he is balancing the interest of the state as well as against potential dangerous consequence na puwedeng mangyari kung tayo ay magkamali sa mga galaw natin,” he added.
The Palace official said the government would not allow other countries to infringe upon Philippine sovereignty.
“But what is foremost in the mind of the President is that, hindi tayo papayag na ang ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay yapakan – iyan eh nakakasiguro ako diyan,” he said.
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
China, however, has refused to recognize and honor the ruling. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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