Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
reiterated the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea despite
allowing China to continue fishing in the country’s exclusive economic zone
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m the
owner, and I’m just giving the fishing rights,” he said.
“Historically even before the birth
of nations, even before the organization of whatever, there were already people
on the coast. Whether they are really the ancestors of the Chinese or the
Filipinos, and also, nations who have been fishing there. It’s called fishing
rights,” Duterte said.
“The court admitted that there is
such a thing as the traditional fishing rights of people and that you have to
allow it without violating the law,” he added.
“He was right there,” Presidential
Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing referring to Duterte.
“Because if you claim to be the owner
and you feel you are the owner, it is the owner who gives the right to someone
who seek your permission to fish.”
President Duterte also mentioned that
it was during President Benigno Aquino that the country lost claim on West
He pointed to former Foreign
Secretary Albert del Rosario as the one responsible for losing Scarborough
Shoal to Beijing.
“We filed a case for arbitration
actually, and we won. But the problem is the property is in their possession.
It is with China who claims it also to be his property, their property,”
He shut down critics who have been
pressuring him to uphold the constitutional provision on the country’s
exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“That is a provision for the
thoughtless and the senseless. Protection of economic rights, of economic
zones, resources? I am protecting the country and the 110 million Filipinos,”
Duterte further defended his position
by saying that enforcing a ban on Chinese fishing in the disputed waters could
lead to an armed confrontation with China.
Meanwhile, neighboring countries in
Asia such as Indonesia and Vietnam have continued to assert their exclusive
rights over the territory by blowing up Chinese fishing vessels in the area
without any incident or threat of war over China.
Duterte has continued to run the
narrative of the “Threat of War” in order to justify his position to let China
abuse the Philippines’ own natural resources.
China’s operations in the
area have damaged billions of dollars of coral reef.
China has been accused of predatory
practices by the United States – offering easy-to-avail loans with onerous
interest rates and conditions to countries with weak leadership.
The communist country has victimized
nations such as Africa, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela with its predatory loan
practices and figures to hold the Philippines’ islands hostage with the help of
its own willing President.