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 (EEZ):
“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 Philippine Sea.
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,” Duterte said.
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 retorted.
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.