Gov’t will do everything to protect PH fishers in West Philippine Sea

Romualdez: Gov’t will do everything protect Filipino fisherfolk in WPS

/ 04:28 PM May 31, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is confident that the Philippine government will do everything to protect Filipino fishers despite a warning from China that “trespassers” on seas they allegedly own will be arrested.

Romualdez in a statement on Friday said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration will protect fisherfolk from China’s bullying after its government approved a new policy authorizing its coast guard to detain foreigners deemed “illegally crossing” its borders for 60 days without trial.

“(President Marcos) will do everything it can to protect our fishermen in pursuing their economic and livelihood activities within our exclusive economic zone, including Bajo de Masinloc near Zambales and Pangasinan,” Romualdez said as the country celebrates National Fisherfolk Day.


“We will use all the powers we have to keep them safe,” he added.


READ: Senators warn of new maritime case vs China

Romualdez also believes Filipino fishermen cannot be considered trespassers when they are fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), adding that China has been moving into the Philippines’ territory.

“Our countrymen cannot be considered as trespassers. It is the Chinese and other foreigners illegally entering our maritime waters under international law who will be treated as intruders,” the Speaker noted.

According to an article published by the South China Morning Post on May 16, China’s new policy will take effect next month on June 15.

“Beijing has fleshed out the Chinese coastguard’s powers to detain foreigners suspected of illegally crossing borders, rolling out regulations on Wednesday that stipulate suspects can be held for up to 60 days without trial, amid rising tensions in the South China Sea,” the article reads.

READ: China empowers self to detain South China Sea ‘trespassers’


President Marcos last Saturday said this new policy of detaining foreign nationals crossing its supposed borders — despite having a maritime dispute with the Philippines — was “completely unacceptable.”

“That kind of action would be completely unacceptable to the Philippines,” Marcos told reporters in an interview in Makati City. “The position we take is that it is unacceptable and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens.”

The new ruling came amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).  Before the Philippines, the United States, and Japan held a trilateral summit in early April, China condemned an alleged “stoking bloc confrontation” in the WPS.

READ: China opposes ‘stoking bloc confrontation’ in West Philippine Sea

On several occasions after the trilateral meeting, ships from the China Coast Guard (CCG) and People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) were near the country’s waters, especially during the Balikatan exercises between Philippine and American forces.

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There were also instances in which Chinese research vessels were spotted over the country’s eastern waters, which are even farther from mainland China.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: China, fisher, West Philippine Sea

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