AFP chief tells Pinoys to disregard China fishing rules
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2014 - 7:07pm

BACOLOR, Pampanga – Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista on Wednesday urged Filipino fishermen to disregard the threats made by China about its fishing rules in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Bautista said Filipinos should stand up for their rights even as he gave assurance to the public that the military would perform its mandate of defending the country’s territory.

“Let’s put it this way: should we give in to terror? To threats and intimidation? Should we? We should not. Should we give in to threats, intimidation, terror, violence of any armed group in our country? We should stand up for our rights as a people,” Bautista told reporters here.

“We just go on with our normal lives. We have brought the case for international arbitration and we will continue to do that, pursue that. We will continue with our mandate also,” he added.

Bautista was responding to queries about the safety of Filipino fishermen in the wake of China’s new law requiring foreign fishing boats to seek its permission before operating in the West Philippine Sea.

The new law issued by the Hainan Provincial People’s Congress took effect last month and covered two million hectares of the area.

The Philippine government said it would ignore the new law and warned that it could escalate tensions in the West Philippine Sea.  It noted that the new law, which reinforces China’s expansive claim under the nine-dash line, is “a gross violation of the international law.”

China’s nine-dash line covers more than 100 islets, atolls and reefs and overlaps with the claims of the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam.

Bautista declined to respond when asked what the military would do in case Chinese ships stop Filipino fishermen from doing their usual activities.

“That is hypothetical,” the military chief said.

Bautista added that the military would continue to support peaceful means to resolve the territorial row.

“As a country we renounce war as an instrument of national policy and so we submit to the peaceful resolution of conflict,” he said.

Last year, the Philippines contested China’s territorial claim before an international tribunal of the United Nations.

The Philippines said China’s nine-dash line violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It also demanded that China refrain from any activity that would complicate the already tense dispute.

China ignored the Philippines’ protests and continued to beef up its presence in areas that are well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Previous reports said the Chinese Navy has stepped up its patrols in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, Recto (Reed) Bank and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef off Palawan.

China also maintains its presence in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which is 124 nautical miles from the nearest point in Zambales.


 

ARMED FORCES BANK AND PANGANIBAN BAUTISTA BRUNEI AND VIETNAM CHINA CHINESE NAVY EMMANUEL BAUTISTA HAINAN PROVINCIAL PEOPLE LAW OF THE SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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