Hilbay urges Senate to probe 2016 fishing deal with China
MANILA, Philippines — Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged the Senate on Wednesday to investigate the 2016 agreement between President Rodrigo Dutere and Chinese President Xi Jinping allowing Chinese access to the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
Hilbay, a former senatorial candidate who ran under the opposition Liberal Party, said the Senate should conduct the probe to identify what was “bargained away” by Duterte and reveal the terms of the deal.
“I think the Senate needs to conduct an investigation over whether or not the fisheries code was violated or whether or not the treaty clause of the Philippines was violated” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
Hilbay said he cannot see any reason for the President to enter into the agreement, because “it’s not fair, it’s not practical, and it’s a clear violation of the Constitution.”
“I think if they want to enter into some kind of informal agreement, pwede naman nilang sinabi na they won this case, but we understand that we have a very powerful Navy out there. We will allow the Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ but everytime we catch them, we are going to complain, we are going to file a protest,” he said, referring to The Hauge ruling in 2016 that favored the Philippines over China in the contested waters.
“Why? Because we have a national territory to protect,” he said.
According to Hilbay, the mere presence of a Chinese vessel involved in the alleged ramming and sinking of a Filipino fishing boat near the Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea is prima facie evidence that the Chinese are fishing in the Philippines’ EEZ.
“You don’t need evidence… because they have no business in the EEZ in the first place,” he said. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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