Duterte raises harassment of PH fishermen with Chinese ambassador
admin • June 12, 2018 • 4259
President Duterte speaks with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua during the Independence Day celebration at the Aguinaldo Shrine on June 12. (Image grabbed from RVTM video)
President Rodrigo Duterte, for the first time since he assumed the presidency, led on June 12 the celebration of the proclamation Philippine independence.
Upon his arrival at the Aguinaldo Shrine, he was welcomed by members of the Diplomatic Corps including Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua.
The Chinese ambassador said President Duterte personally shared with him the concerns of Filipino fishermen regarding Chinese coast guard personnel who forcibly take their catch at Scarborough Shoal.
The Chinese official assured that investigation will be conducted and vowed to impose appropriate disciplinary action against the coastguards if proven guilty of misconduct. He also confirmed that Chinese coast guards are not allowed to confiscate the catch of Filipino fishermen.
Zhao reiterated that relations between Philippines and China remain friendly. — Rosalie Coz
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it has extended assistance to the five Filipino fishermen who survived the collapse of a bridge in Nanfang-ao, Taiwan on Tuesday (October 1).
According to DOLE,officials at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Taipei already visited the victims at the hospital and provided the necessary assistance they need.
The Filipino survivors are namely Julio Gimawa, Jason Villaruel, Allan Alcansano, John Vicente Royo and June Flores.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department have also extended its sympathies to the families of the two Filipino workers who died after the fishing vessel they were on was crushed by the collapsing bridge.
The casualties were identified as Andree Abregana Serencio and Gorge Jagmis Impang.
Another Filipino, Romulo Ilustrisimo Escalicas Jr., remains missing and authorities’ search and retrieval operation on site is still on-going.
“The Philippine labor office in Taiwan is also facilitating the repatriation of the remains of Serencio and Impang,” the DOLE said in a statement.
“On instructions of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, all possible assistance will be extended to the family of those killed in the incident. Death and other benefits will also be provided,” the statement added.
Likewise, children of the victims will get scholarship benefits from DOLE.
DOLE said the Philippine Labor office in Taiwan is hands on when it comes to monitoring and extending all the necessary assistance to the victims and their families to recover from the tragedy.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio believes that the Philippines must set aside and reject what he calls as a “lopsided” and “unconstitutional” verbal agreement it forged with China.
The court official also expressed his agreement with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. when the latter said in an interview that only the Philippines is allowed to fish in Philippine waters.
Justice Carpio, in a statement, said there is no official policy that allows China to fish in Reed Bank (locally known as Recto Bank).
“Secretary Locsin knows that there is no recorded minutes of the so-called verbal agreement between President Xi and President Duterte allowing the Chinese to fish in Reed Bank in exchange for Filipinos fishing in Scarborough Shoal,” said Carpio.
The Senior Associate Justice added, “Any such verbal agreement, if confirmed by the Philippine government, will bind the Philippines to allow the Chinese to fish in Reed Bank for as long as China allows Filipinos to fish in Scarborough Shoal.”
Carpio also underscored the difference between Reed Bank which is 8,660 sq. km in area, and Scarborough Shoal which is only 150 sq. km in area; emphasizing that “Filipinos can fish only outside the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal, not inside the lagoon which is the rich fishing area.”
He also noted that China has the largest fishing fleet in the world with huge modern trawlers, comparing it with the Philippines whose Filipino fishermen only have wooden boats with outriggers.
“The Chinese can deplete the fish in Reed Bank very quickly,” he stressed.
Justice Carpio also pointed out that the verbal agreement, aside from being clearly against the Constitution, is so lopsided it should be rejected by the Philippine government.
Reed Bank is within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.
“Under the Constitution, the use and enjoyment of the fish and other natural resources within Philippine EEZ is reserved exclusively for Filipinos,” Justice Carpio further said. (with reports from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf
MANILA, Philippines – Some Cabinet members are throwing inconsistent statements regarding the controversial ‘verbal agreement’ between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping over the issue of fishing rights in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea.
In June, President Duterte explained in public what is involved in his ‘mutual agreement’ with President Xi.
“Nagtanong sila, (They asked) ‘Will you allow the Chinese to fish?’ Sabi ko, (I answered) ‘Of course.’ ‘Yan ang pinag-usapan namin noon, (That’s what we [Xi] discussed before),” the President said.
“And that was [why] we were allowed to fish again. It was a mutual agreement,” he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the ‘agreement’ is in effect because China is no longer harassing Filipino fishermen in the disputed waters such as in Panatag Shoal.
“Ano bang hindi enforced? Ano pang tawag doon? Iyong usapan, may usapan sila: Puwede kayong mag-fish, hindi gagambalain ang mga fishermen. Hindi ba nangyayari na nga? (Not enforced? What do you call that? They had an agreement: ‘You may fish, we will not block your fishermen.’ Isn’t it happening already?),” Panelo explained.
This agreement Panelo said, was documented as it was officially recorded.
But when asked if Malacañang could present it to the public, Panelo has no direct answer.
“Sinabi na nga niya (He already said it) exactly as it transpired. Kung ano ang sinabi niya (what he said) we should trust the President’s word,” he said.
“Besides, nandoon kami and all of us are saying narinig naming lahat ng iyon, (we were all there and all of us are saying, we heard everything),” he added.
But for Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, that said ‘verbal agreement’ is pointless and cannot be executed by the Philippine government unless it becomes a policy.
Even Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles agreed that an agreement can only become a policy or legally binding if it has specific rules and regulations.
“Unless that is translated into hard and specific words and sentences and provisions, then it’s just an agreement to come to an agreement,” Nograles argued.
The Palace admitted that Cabinet officials can have individual interpretation on the issue.
But Panelo noted that both Nograles and Locsin were not present nor involved in the conversation of the two heads of states.
“Magkakaiba kasi nga, wala sila duon. Hindi ba sinabi na nga ni Presidente, wala kasi iyong dalawang doon,” Panelo stressed.
When asked if he thinks the interpretationof the two officials are incorrect, Panelo said, “Ano pa nga ba? Hindi yun ang sinasabi ng presidente, (What else can that be? That is not what the President meant) but they are entitled to their interpretation. Kung iyon ang intindi nila, ano ang magagawa natin? (If that’s how they see it, what else can we do?)” he concluded. – with details from Rosalie Coz
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