Locsin: Verbal fishing agreement with China can’t be enforced
MANILA, Philippines – The verbal agreement between the Philippines and China on allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines’ territorial waters cannot be enforced, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.
“The verbal agreement cannot be enforced because it’s verbal, exactly as (Senator) Frank(lin) Drilon said that you need a document to prove an agreement. It’s just the way it is,” Locsin said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday when pressed for comment on whether or not the verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping is legally binding.
Locsin issued the statement after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was no written agreement between Duterte and Xi that allows the Chinese to fish in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Panelo, who also serves as the President’s chief legal counsel, said the agreement referred to last week by Duterte was just a verbal understanding reached by the two leaders during a bilateral meeting in 2016.
‘Not a policy’
“The question is: Is it policy? It’s not policy,” Locsin further said.
“He (Duterte) may have been led to believe we had a surplus,” he added.
Locsin noted that while foreign fishermen are not permitted to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ, allowance can be made if there are excess resources.
“It’s not allowed in our EEZ because we determine the allowable catch but any surplus—I was told by my legal department—if there’s a surplus then you can make an allowance for that. Do we have that (surplus) that would be for BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) to say,” he explained. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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