Sotto and the migrating fish
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - July 4, 2019 - 12:00am

Was Senate President Tito Sotto serious or joking when he said: “It's very difficult to say that there is exclusivity when it's underwater. The fish could be coming from China and the fish from the Philippines could be going to China. If we want to be technical about it, relate it to the constitutionality of what should be owned by us, there are exclusive types of fish that are only found in China but can be found here because of migration perhaps. It could be a very good test case that it is a constitutional violation.”

After drawing flak for these statements, Sotto clarified: “My comments on WPS [West Philippine Sea] and its resources was a tongue-in-cheek statement. Sadly konti lang nakaintindi.”

Without demeaning the severity of the consequences of the Recto Bank ramming incident, especially for our Filipino fishers and for our national sovereignty, we want to share here a summary of the creative satire and response of Filipinos to Sotto’s fishy statements, if only to highlight, sadly, the lack of intelligent, nationalist depth and understanding about the WPS issue and the profound debt of gratitude and patronage of many in the present Philippine Senate.

From the United States of America, this post: “Senator Tito Sotto has won the prestigious Nobel Fish Prize for his “mind-boggling contribution” to maritime science, his alma mater announced Friday. Sotto was honored for his “deep, incisive, gagological examination of the complex nautical, aqualegal migratory patterns and rights in the West Philippine and South China Sea,” according to a statement from Wanbol University, where Sotto is revered as the institution’s most respected alumnus.

“Sotto was particularly praised for his profound analysis and deconstruction of the maritime exclusivity rights as they pertain to the waters claimed by the Philippines in the context of the Duterte government’s policy of offering generous access to China.”

Passport for fishes? “Netizens reimagine a world where fishes have citizenship, passports, and names more representative of their country of origin using memes.”

“When crossing over to different countries’ territories, do fish need passports? Wazzap mga sisda, magkakapassport na tayo.”

In another FB post complete with visuals, (Dory tells Nemo): “I’m sorry but we can’t cross the Filipino border.”

Another FB post showed “a Chinese fish stopped by a fish representing the Government of the Philippines (no passport, no entry). Still, some FB posts asked how nationality of fish can be determined.”

“Under the Philippine seas, some mused if immigration lines were just as long underwater as they are on land.”

“Another post wrote that the Bureau of Immigration will head to the West Philippine Sea to check the nationality of the fishes there.”

Gary Alejano posted: “Talino, hanapan natin ng ID mga isda. Pag walang ID, no entry. Pag di marunong magtagalog, porener yan.”

“Hindi pwede mag migrate ang mga isda mula Pilipinas sa China dahil walang pahintulot mula Chinese authorities.”

There were some netizens “who wondered if fishes from different countries can be identified according to their appearance. Ethel Booba posted a photo of herself in a mermaid costume, joking that she was an “exclusive type of fish found only in the Philippines.”

“Others posted pictures of Chinese fish with chinky eyes and Filipino fish with big eyes.”

Ninotchka Rosca posted Beijing’s official list of Chinese sea creatures showing a playful use of Filipino names of fishes-: “Bisu Go, Ma Ya Ma Ya, Kandu Li, Tu Na, Ta Hong, Ali Ma Ngo, Pa Ting, Tu Li Ngan, Hi To, Sug Po, Tul Ya, Bu Tan Ding, Du Gong, Ga Lung Gong.”

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