Palace: OK to give trade partner China ‘some’ privileges
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte for allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) due to Manila and Beijing’s “friendship” and trade relations, Presidential Spokesperson Panelo said on Wednesday.
With the Philippines’ receiving economic perks from China, the Palace official said Duterte believed we should give “some” to China.
“Kasi magkakaibigan tayo. Base sa pagiging magkaibigan natin, marami tayong trade relations, marami tayong negosasyon sa gobyerno ng Tsina upang paunlarin ang ating bansa. Kumbaga mayroon tayong pakinabang sa kanila, sa punto ni Presidente e magbigay din tayo ng konti sa kanila,” Panelo said.
(We are friends. We have numerous trade relations and negotiations with China aimed at developing our nation. We benefit from them, hence, the President believes that we should likewise give back.)
Panelo said that under the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), granting fishing rights to other nations is allowed.
Panelo did not elaborate on the said provision.
“Sinasabi ni Presidente na even under the UNCLOS pwede tayong magbigay ng pribilehiyo sa mga ibang bansa na mag-fish sa EEZ ,” he said in an interview over radio DZMM.
(The President said that under UNCLOS, we can grant fishing privileges to other nations.)
EEZ or the exclusive economic zone extends 200-nautical miles from the Philippines’ coastline.
Duterte’s remarks to allow China to fish in Philippine territorial waters drew flak from maritime experts.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the President’s decision was unconstitutional.
Manila and Beijing’s relations was again tested after a Chinese trawler rammed a fishing boat manned by 22 Filipinos at Recto Bank.
The Filipinos were abandoned at sea by the Chinese crew on the night of June 9.
The 22 Filipinos have urged Duterte to declare Recto Bank, an exclusive fishing ground for Filipinos.
But Duterte, who described the sinking of a Filipino boat as a “little maritime accident,” said China won’t allow itself to be banned from fishing in parts of Philippine EEZ, and will insist on their historical maritime rights in the area.
In July 2016, the Philippines sealed a historic win against China before the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague in July 2016, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
China, however, has refused to recognize and honor the ruling. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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