Call for immediate withdrawal

(The Philippine Star) - April 19, 2021 - 12:00am

The Agrifisheries Alliance (AFA) calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Chinese maritime militia vessels from the West Philippine Sea. It joins the Philippine business groups in supporting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s position. Our call is based on the principles of sovereignty, food security and livelihood that are critical for our agriculture and fisheries sectors.

The AFA’s five coalitions cover a cross-section of agriculture stakeholders.  They represent farmers and fisherfolk (Alyansa Agrikultura-AA), agribusiness (Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc.-PCAFI), science and academe (Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines-CAMP), rural women (Pambansang Kilusan ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) and multisectors (AgriFisheries 2025).

For sovereignty, it is clear that the unwanted Chinese military presence violates the Philippine jurisdiction over our 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This was definitively decided in the 2016 ruling based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

For food security, our fish supply is severely threatened by Chinese illegal fishing. They catch about 3 million MT or P300 billion a year. This severely depletes our fish supply, which we need for our own food security.

For livelihood, the Chinese threatens us in our own seas by using water cannons, ramming our small boats (including sinking the fishing boats Gem-Ver 1 in the Recto [Reed] Bank) and authorizing the Chinese Coast Guard to fire on our vessels within our EEZ. This last coast guard order was reinforced by at least 240 Chinese vessels illegally in our waters, with 136 Chinese maritime militia vessels spotted last April 11 by our Western Command based in Palawan province.

The stakeholders across the different sectors of agriculture vehemently protest the illegal and threatening presence of the Chinese maritime militia presence in our seas. Our cherished principles of sovereignty, food security and livelihood are violated by their continued illegal stay.

We wholeheartedly support Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s call for their immediate withdrawal from our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

• Emil Javier, chair, CAMP also National Scientist, former UP president and minister of Science and Technology 

• Ernesto Ordoñez, chair, AA also national coordinator, AFA

• Danilo Fausto, president, PCAFI also former Agrientrepreneur of the Year

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