Locsin says Philippines not allowing China to fish in EEZ
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Wednesday that the Philippines is not allowing China to fish in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
“That’s right, I’m saying, we’re not,” Locsin said when asked in an ABS-CBN News Channel interview.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he had an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 allowing Chinese access to the Philippines’ EEZ.
But Locsin said “he may have said it because he was given the impression that there is a level of beyond allowable catch, that if there is a surplus, you can share it to the foreign fishermen.”
He explained it would be up to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to decide whether or not there is excess in the “allowable fishing.”
Locsin added that the verbal agreement with China cannot be enforced, “because it’s verbal” and a document is needed to prove the deal.
“The question is, is it policy? It’s not policy. He may have been led to believe we had a surplus that he may have said sure, that’s fine,” he said.
‘No to joint probe’
Locsin said he opposes the joint investigation between China and the Philippines on the alleged sinking of a fishing boat manned by 22 Filipino fishermen.
“I do not believe that China will allow our Coast Guard to go to Chinese soil no more than we would allow Chinese Coast Guard to step on Philippine soil to interview our fishermen,” he said.
“When you come up with separate investigation, the two results are there, then you can compare notes and [ask] why is this like this?” he said.
When asked on his seemingly different views from the President, who earlier accepted China’s joint probe proposal, Locsin said the substance of his position is the same as that of Malacañang.
He said he is also willing to change his position if Duterte tells him to do so.
“I accept it. I am not the dictator of foreign policies. The President is. If the president told me to change, I would. Why? Because I am a servant of the state,” (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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