Gordon: Verbal fishing deal between Philippines, China needs Congress OK
MANILA, Philippines — The verbal agreement allowing Chinese fishers access to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) still has to go through Congress before being enforced, Senator Richard Gordon said Wednesday.
“This is in the Constitution, in UNCLOS [that], if we don’t have to capacity to fish and there is a lot of fish, [that’s] okay. That still has to go through Congress,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
In defending his argument, Gordon said the Congress “always has an overarching inspection powers” and has the right to oversee the verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016.
The senator said among the questions that should be asked on the issue are the number of ships that will be given access and the volume of surplus of catch that can be fished in the country’s EEZ.
“Can we fish? Pwede ba tayong mangisda sa sinasabi nilang sa kanilang bayan? Hindi nga tayo makapangisda sa Panatag (shoal) eh, nagpapaalam pa tayo,” he said.
(Can we fish in what they say is theirs? We cannot even fish in Panatag, we seek approval first.)
“A verbal agreement is only good among themselves if you are talking about ‘Ako ang mauna ha (I will be the first to catch, okay)?’” Gordon added, adding that “no country will allow another country to fish in the EEZ” that way.
“You have to say no to a bully. You have to stand up to a bully but also keep your powder dry. Because you don’t go to a gunfight with a knife,” he said.
He also said China must be told to “behave accordingly and in accordance with international rules of conduct” as the Philippines cannot ignore China regarding maritime issues. /muf
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