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Carpio to Duterte: Ban Chinese fishers from West Philippine Sea

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Carpio to Duterte: Ban Chinese fishers from West Philippine Sea
“I have one last test. I will wait for him to say, he has nothing to lose, ‘I will abide by the Constitution, Chinese fishermen are not allowed to fish in our EEZ’,” Retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio said at a virtual press conference.
PO 2nd Class Will Gaskill / US Navy Media Content Operations / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio dared yesterday President Duterte to ban China from fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea during his last year in office.

“I have one last test. I will wait for him to say, he has nothing to lose, ‘I will abide by the Constitution, Chinese fishermen are not allowed to fish in our EEZ’,” Carpio said at a virtual press conference.

“And that is what the Filipino fishermen want, but can he do it? I hope he will surprise me and say, ‘I will no longer allow them. I will prohibit them from violating our Constitution, violating the Arbitral Award.’ That is what I request from him,” he said.

In 2019, Duterte said he had given China the fishing rights in the country’s EEZ in the South China Sea.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m the owner, and I’m just giving the fishing rights,” Duterte said in an interview on Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s television program on July 17, 2019.

In May, Duterte barred his Cabinet from publicly discussing the South China Sea dispute after some of his officials rebuked Beijing over the presence of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

China has refused to recognize the July 12, 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that affirmed the country’s EEZ in the West Philippine Sea and nullified China’s claims over almost the entire South China Sea.

Duterte had said the country’s arbitral victory against China is just a piece of paper that can be thrown in a trash bin.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, however, has filed several diplomatic protests against Beijing over its vessels’ illegal presence in the West Philippine Sea.

Meanwhile, a militant fisherfolk group said yesterday China may already be conducting surveys in areas with potential oil and mineral resources which could lead to actual exploration activities.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) raised the alert after a piece of equipment was found by fishermen in the waters off Pangasinan.

The group said it is believed to be Chinese-owned and identified it as a submersible pump, a device commonly used for testing and identifying water classifications.

“The equipment contained pump and motor portions which lift the fluid to the surface to explore and examine the seafloor. This could be China’s preparation for an actual drilling and exploration in our exclusive economic zone,” Bobby Roldan, Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon, said in a statement.

Roldan, a fisherman in Zambales province, said the incident should cause alarm as it may be a precursor to Chinese oil and mineral exploration in the West Philippine Sea. – Rhodina Villanueva

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