EEZ provision in Constitution is ‘very clear’ – Robredo
MANILA, Philippines — The provision in the Constitution regarding the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is “very clear” and leaves “no room for interpretation,” Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday.
Robredo was reacting to a statement of President Rodrigo Duterte calling the provision “thoughtless and senseless.”
She cited Section 2 of Article XII — which the part about National Economy and Patrimony — of the Constitution, which says: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
“Iyong pagka-saad niya. Walang room for interpretation kasi klarong-klaro doon. Halimbawa, klaro na sinasabi niya na iyong exclusive economic zone pati na rin iyong mga marine resources, pati iyong lahat na katubigan na nasa loob ng teritoryo natin ay for the exclusive use and enjoyment of Filipino citizens — na walang karapatan kahit sinong opisyal na baguhin ito hanggang nasa Saligang Batas siya,” Robredo said in her weekly radio show BISErbisyong LENI, which is aired over AM station DZXL.
[That’s what it says. There’s no room for interpretation because it’s very clear. For instance, it very clearly says that the exclusive economic zone and the marine resources and all the waters within our territory are for the exclusive use and enjoyment of Filipino citizens — that no official has the right to change this for as long as it’s in the Constitution.]
According to Robredo, if the government would want to allow foreigners to fish in the EEZ, the Constitution would have to be ratified first.
“Kung palagay niya kailangang i-allow natin iyong ibang… iyong ibang hindi mga Pilipino na i-enjoy din iyong ating mga resources, kailangang baguhin muna iyong mga probisyon,” Robredo said.
[If the government thinks we need to allow others who are not Filipinos to enjoy our resources, then the provisions need to be changed.]
Robredo said that to disregard the Constitution — which is the “bible of the government” — would be to disregard the institutions and laws anchored on it.
“Parang ito iyong pinaka-bibliya ng ating gobyerno… Ang lahat na powers, ang lahat na responsibilidad, ang lahat na institusyon ay nakabase sa Saligang Batas. Kumbaga kung walang Saligang Batas, wala ito lahat,” Robredo said.
[It’s like the bible of the government. All the powers, all the responsibilities, all the institutions are based on the Constitution. In other words, without the Constitution, all these won’t exist.]
“Kaya kapag ito ay isinantabi mo, parang isinasantabi mo na rin iyong mandato — mandato mo bilang isang lingkod-bayan — iyong lahat na institusyon na kinrieyt ng Saligang Batas, iyong lahat na batas na naka-angkla sa Saligang Batas. Kaya nakakabahala,” the Vice President added.
[So when you put this aside, it’s like your putting aside the mandate — your mandate as a public servant — and all the institutions created by the Constitution, all the laws anchored on the Constitutions. That’s why it’s alarming.]
READ: Duterte: EEZ provision in PH Constitution for the ‘senseless, thoughtless’
Robredo stressed that the government was not seeking to go to war against China. She said, however, that the response of the country’s neighboring countries against China should serve as a lesson for the Philippines.
“Ayaw naman natin awayin iyong China. Tingin natin, magbe-benefit tayo sa magandang economic relations with them. Pero huwag naman aabusuhin. Huwag naman at the expense ng ating sovereignty at saka ng ating mga teritoryo,” Robredo said.
[We don’t want to fight China. I think we will benefit from having good economic relations with them. But I hope the relationships doesn’t get abused — at the expense of our sovereignty and our territory.]
“‘Di ba kapag may mga illegal na Chinese vessels na pumapasok sa teritoryo nila, pinapasabog niya,” she added. “Hindi naman sila naggiye-giyera. Kaya sana, iyong examples ng ibang mga bansa, maging aral sa atin na mayroong mga paraan na hindi mo sinasakripisyo iyong pagkakaibigan ninyo pero hindi mo din… hindi mo pinapayagang abusuhin iyong bansa natin.”
[When there are Chinese vessels illegally entering their territory, other countries would blow up the ships. But they don’t get into a war. So I hope the examples set by these other countries would serve as lessons for us that there are solutions that don’t call for us to sacrifice our friendship and at the same don’t allow our country to be abused.]
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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