Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio had urged the Philippine government to protest China's destruction of coral reefs in Scarborough Shoal in the conduct of harvesting giant clams.
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Philippines, China, Vietnam can sign common agreement on fishing — Carpio
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - June 14, 2018 - 12:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has several options on how to deal with the situation in Scarborough Shoal, inlcuding signing a common agreement with China and Vietnam, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday.

In July 2016, a United Nations-backed tribunal ruled that Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, which is well within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, is a traditional fishing ground of Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.

Carpio, member of the country's legal team in the arbitration against China, noted that the arbitral tribunal cannot decide the ownership of the shoal as it is a territorial issue. The tribunal can only decide on maritime issues.

While China is refusing to acknowledge the landmark ruling, the Philippines should maintain its position, the acting Chief Justice said.

"We should maintain our position because otherwise China will later on say, 'You have been fishing there and you have accepted that you're fishing there because we have allowed you out of the goodness of our heart,'" Carpio told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The Philippines, China and Vietnam should sign an agreement on fishing in the Scarborough Shoal.

"They will have to decide the quantity of fish they take because, of course, they cannot take everything because we have to have sustainable fishing there," Carpio said.

Aside from signing a common agreement on fishing, the Philippines could also sign a boundary agreement with Vietnam.

Carpio noted that the boundary will be a "median line" between the two countries.

"The last time the Prime Minister of Vietnam and our president met in Singapore, the Prime Minister of Vietnam asked, 'Why don't we wign a boundary agreement outside the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the Spratlys?' and the president said, 'We will study it,'" Carpio said.

The acting Chief Justice stressed that the Philippines would only be applying the tribunal ruling by state practice by doing so.

"The ruling says that those islands in the Sratlys do not generate any exclusive economic zone and therefore we can now have a sea boundary agreement because we have no overlapping exclusive economic zone," he said.

Carpio had urged the Philippine government to protest China's destruction of coral reefs in Scarborough Shoal in the conduct of harvesting giant clams.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said that there is no need to file a diplomatic protest as the Philippines was already having a bilateral consultation mechanism with China.

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