PH-China verbal fishing agreement ‘lopsided, against the Constitution’ — Carpio
MANILA, Philippines — The verbal fishing agreement between the Philippines and China is not only against the Constitution, but it is also lopsided, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday.
Carpio made the statement after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the agreement allowing China to fish in Philippine waters was merely a verbal understanding between the two countries.
Panelo said no written agreement was signed.
“This verbal agreement, aside from being clearly against the Constitution, is so lopsided it should be rejected by the Philippine government,” Carpio said in a statement.
Carpio also backed Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who also said that the verbal agreement cannot be enforced since a written document is needed to prove the said deal.
“DFA Secretary is correct that there is no official policy allowing the Chinese to fish in Reed Bank. Secretary Locsin knows that there is no recorded minutes of the so-called verbal agreement between President Xi and President Duterte allowing the Chinese to fish in Reed Bank in exchange for Filipinos fishing in Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio said.
Further, Carpio said that the “Chinese can deplete the fish in Reed Bank very quickly” since they have the “largest fishing fleet in the world with huge modern trawlers” compared to the wooden boats of Filipinos fishermen.
“Any such verbal agreement, if confirmed by the Philippine government, will bind the Philippines to allow the Chinese to fish in Reed Bank for as long as China allows Filipinos to fish in Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio said.
“Reed Bank is 8,660 sq. kilometer (km) in area, while Scarborough Shoal is only 150 sq. km in area. Filipinos can fish only outside the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal, not inside the lagoon which is the rich fishing area,” he added.
Carpio also pointed out the provision in the Constitution on the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“Reed Bank is within Phillippine EEZ. Under the Constitution, the use and enjoyment of the fish and other natural resources within Philippine EEZ is reserved exclusively for Filipinos,” Carpio said. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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