Marcos: China won’t stop Pinoys from fishing

Marcos: China won’t stop Pinoys from fishing

Alexis Romero – The Philippine Star

January 17, 2023 | 12:00am

Asked to provide details of the agreement, the President said he did not know how the word “partnership” was used to describe it.

BW / File

ON BOARD PR 001 – China will not prevent Filipino fishermen from going to traditional fishing grounds in the South China Sea, President Marcos gave assurance yesterday.

Asked to provide details of the agreement, the President said he did not know how the word “partnership” was used to describe it.

“It’s really an agreement… that China will not stop our fishermen from fishing. That’s it, very simple,” the President told reporters in an interview en route to Switzerland. “They (Chinese) will continue to allow our fishermen to fish in the fishing grounds that they have been to, they have used for many generations. That’s it. It’s that simple.”

Before stepping down as Marcos’ national security adviser, retired political science professor Clarita Carlos said the Philippines is studying China’s proposal to form a partnership among fishing villages in the West Philippine Sea, the area in the South China Sea being claimed by the Philippines. She said the coast guards of the two countries are also coming up with ways to prevent tensions in contested waters.

Carlos, who served as national security adviser for less than seven months, is joining the House of Representatives think tank Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department. She was replaced by former interior secretary and retired military general Eduardo Año.

China claims historic rights over virtually the entire South China Sea, where more than $5 trillion in shipments pass through every year. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the resource-rich area.

In 2016, a Hague-based arbitral court ruled that China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea has no legal basis but the Chinese government refused to recognize the ruling.

Marcos’ predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, had sought to enhance the Philippines’ ties with China that were strained because of the maritime row. However, reports of Chinese ships preventing Filipino fishermen from going to South China Sea fishing grounds persisted.

Upon his arrival from his state visit to China this month, Marcos said strengthening the relationship between Manila and Beijing would “help smooth the way to a greater and deeper and stronger partnership” and would yield a “stronger foundation” to resolve the issues involving the two countries.

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