Duterte to China: Let Filipinos fish in Scarborough
Christina Mendez (Philstar.com) - August 23, 2016 - 9:43pm
MANILA, Philippines -- President Rodrigo Duterte called on Beijing on Tuesday to allow Filipino fishermen to enter and fish in the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea to help warm relations between China and the Philippines.
 
Duterte said he hopes bilateral talks between Manila and Beijing happen soon. 
 
He added that it is better to continually dialogue with Beijing rather that agitate them despite the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in favor of the Philippines.
 
“But for the Philippines, we are having talks. Kung puputulin mo yang bilateral, eh saan tayo pupunta? It’s better to continually engage China through diplomatic dialogue. Rather [than] anger whoever the officials there and they cut completely, maraming mabibitin, maritime security, pagdaan and the fishermen,” Duterte said in an interview after the oath-taking of military generals at the Palace.
 
“It’s about time that they should consider the privilege of the Filipinos,” he added.
 
Duterte said the issue of maritime security and fishing cooperation were also among the topics discussed by former President Fidel Ramos, now special envoy to China, during his dialogue with his Chinese friends in Hong Kong.

'Focus on common ground, not divisive issues'

“I would say, yes, and President Ramos did a very job. China should be hearing us now. It’s about time to leave the (disputed islands)… and allow the Filipinos to fish there,” he said, referring to Scarborough Shoal also known as Bajo de Masinloc and which is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
 
Last July, the UN tribunal rejected China’s argument that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea, which gave the governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam more leverage in their own maritime disputes with Beijing.
 
The tribunal also said that China had violated international law by causing “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, endangering Philippine ships and interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration.
 
Duterte said he already discussed the matter in talks with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua during a courtesy call in Malacañang.
 
Ramos joined the Cabinet meeting on Monday and reported the results of his backdoor dialogue with former Chinese officials early this month. 
 
It can be recalled that shortly after his arrival from Hong Kong on Aug. 11, Ramos said he and his counterparts agreed to talk about common ground instead of divisive matters in relation to China and the Philippines.
 
These include encouraging marine conservation; avoiding tension and promoting fishing cooperation; anti-drug and anti-smuggling cooperation; anti-crime and anti-corruption cooperation; improving tourism; encouraging trade and investments; encouraging think tank exchanges on relevant issues of mutual concern and interest.
 
Apart from the China issues, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said tax reform, rationalization, the ASEAN summit, and the proposed utilization of the Sangley Point Naval facility in Cavite as an airport were discussed during the meeting.

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