Carpio corrects Chinese shipowner: ‘Reed Bank not part of Spratly Islands’
MANILA, Philippines — “An accidental collision between a Chinese and a Philippine fishing boat in the waters of Reed Bank, Nansha Island Group on the evening of 9 June, caused damage to a Philippine boat.”
This was an excerpt taken from the translated apology letter released by a certain “Association” on behalf of the owner of the Chinese ship involved in an allision with a Filipino vessel in Reed Bank (Recto Bank) last June.
But Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday corrected the same letter, saying that Reed Bank, is not a part of Nansha Island Group — more commonly known as Spratly Islands.
“Reed Bank is not part of the Spratly Islands. Only China claims Reed Bank is part of the Spratly Islands (Nansha to China),” Carpio said in a statement.
Carpio explained that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that “Reed Bank is a completely submerged area, forming part of Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone), beyond the territorial sea of any island in the Spratlys.”
According to the apology letter, the Association explained that the shipowner is one of their members and that the shipowner “would like to express his sincere apology to the Filipino fishermen.”
“The Philippine side is requested to file a specific appeal for civil compensation based on the actual loss,” the letter reads.
“Our Association will urge the shipowner of the fishing boat involved to actively coordinate with the Philippine side to expedite the latter’s claim for compensation according to the procedures for insurance claims,” it added.
Against the Constitution
Carpio had previously noted that allowing Chinese fishermen to fish within the country’s EEZ is against the Constitution.
Quoting the 1987 Constitution, Carpio said in an earlier statement: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its … exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Carpio said explained that this means that “the Philippine Government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. This also means that the ‘use and enjoyment’ of the fish in our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipinos.”
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