Allow Pinoy fishermen in disputed seas, Rody asks Beijing

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte yesterday asked Beijing to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea in a bid to warm bilateral relations.

Duterte made the appeal as he expressed hope that bilateral talks between Manila and Beijing would start soon.

“If you disregard the bilateral (talks), where will we go? Better to continually engage China in a diplomatic dialogue rather than anger officials there and they cut ties completely,” the President said.

“It’s about time that they consider the privilege of the Filipinos,” he added.

Duterte said the issue of maritime security and fishing cooperation were among the topics discussed by special envoy to China and former president Fidel Ramos during his meeting with Chinese officials in Hong Kong on Aug. 11.

“President Ramos did a good job. China should be hearing us now. It’s about time to leave the Scarborough Shoal and allow Filipinos to fish there,” Duterte said.

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. – With Alexis Romero, Pia Lee-Brago

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