Palace: Duterte fishing deal with Xi an ‘informal agreement’
MANILA, Philippines — The agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow Chinese fishermen to trawl in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was only an “informal agreement,” Malacañang said Monday.
“I think that was more of an informal agreement other than documented,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
Duterte last week said he had a “mutual agreement” with Xi during their first bilateral meeting in October 2016 to allow China to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ after Beijing granted Filipino fishermen access to Scarborough Shoal.
“Well, it’s being enforced in a way,” Panelo said, referring to the agreement. “We are being allowed to fish there in the areas that fishermen could not at that time.”
Scarborough is a traditional fishing ground within the Philippines’ EEZ that Beijing seized after a two-month standoff with the Philippine Navy in 2012.
READ: Duterte: China can fish in Philippines’ EEZ
The issue on the Philippines’ EEZ again became a hot issue after a Chinese trawler rammed a Filipino boat at Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last June 9.
The EEZ boundary is set at 200 nautical miles from the Philippine coastline.
Duterte has received a sharp rebuke for his statement that the Philippines could not ban China from fishing in Manila’s EEZ.
The President has been told of Article XII Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that “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.” (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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