Duterte insists verbal fishing deal with Xi ‘constitutional’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte insisted Monday that his verbal fishing deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping allowing the Chinese to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone is constitutional.
“Hindi maging unconstitutional ‘yan (It’s not unconstitutional),” Duterte said in his speech in Malacañang after the oathtaking of newly appointed government officials.
Duterte recently said he made the verbal fishing deal with Xi during their bilateral meeting in October 2016.
Duterte, however, explained that the abandonment of 22 fishermen at the Recto in the West Philippine Sea was a “serious” incident.
“It is a serious [incident],” he said.
The report of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on the incident showed that the ramming of the Filipino boat by a Chinese trawler as “very serious marine casualty.”
The President earlier described the incident as just a “little maritime accident.”
“But when you talk about marine transportation and all, it is a maritime incident. And that is very small because nobody died,” he reiterated on Monday.
Duterte received a sharp rebuke for his remark that he could not ban China from fishing in the country’s EEZ.
“By any stretch of imagination, hindi unconstitutional ‘yung ginawa ko (what I did was not unconstitutional). As a matter of fact, it was in keeping with the law,” Duterte insisted.
He said he would “educate” the people about the issue during his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 22.
“Maybe sa Sona, I will educate people na ‘yung ginawa ko, sabi ko you can fish ano… Tama talaga ako (Maybe in Sona I will educate the people on what I did. I said you can fish… I am right),” he said.
“Sige, salita muna kayo diyan (You talk) and then I will talk,” he added. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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