Duterte ‘tolerating’ Chinese fishing in PH’s EEZ draws flak
Marje Pelayo • June 26, 2019 • 1726
MANILA, Philippines – Hoping to get the government to side with them, the 22 fishermen who were abandoned at sea by Chinese crewmen in the Recto Bank maritime incident have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to bar Chinese fishermen from fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
A country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is an area which is beyond, and is adjacent to, a given country’s territorial seas. It extends no more than 200 nautical miles out from a country’s own coastlines.
In case of the Philippines, any marine resource available within a country’s EEZ is for the exclusive use and benefit of the Philippine government and the Filipino people.
The controversial Recto or Reed Bank is within the Philippine’s EEZ.
It is rich in marine resources that is why the so called “Recto 22” wants the government to insist the Philippine’s exclusive rights in the area.
However, President Duterte said he will not bar the Chinese from fishing in Recto Bank “for friendship’s sake” when asked if he would prevent the Chinese from doing so.
“I don’t think that China would do that. Why? Because we’re friends. And they are of the same view that that should not result in any bloody confrontation,” the President told reporters on June 26.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed the President’s statement.
“Kasi friends nga daw. Kung friends, ‘di magbibigayan kayo, (Because we’re friends. Friends share with each other), Panelo said.
But Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippine’s EEZ because “it will violate the Constitution.”
Carpio explained: “The Constitution mandates, The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
He added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has the specific task to be “the protector of the people” as mandated by the Constitution and to “secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory.”
“The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President, who has the constitutional duty to direct the Armed Forces is the President, who has the constitutional duty to direct the Armed Forces to protect the nation’s marine wealth in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” Carpio explained further.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, pointed out in his tweet that the word ‘friend’ is not stated in the Constitution criticizing the President’s remarks allowing the Chinese to enjoy resources in the country’ archipelagic waters.
Professor Jay Batongbacal, for his part, said the President’s stance on the issue is tantamount to ‘renouncing’ the Philippine’s victory against China granted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 which ruled in favor of the Philippines as having the sovereign rights over the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea.
“This is how the Philippines surrenders and renounces it victory in the Philippine v. China arbitration,” the Maritime Law Expert concluded. – With details from Rosalie Coz
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines, along with other countries, is located in the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’ – a vast region in the Pacific Ocean where most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
There are 24 volcanoes across the country including Taal Volcano in Batangas, one of the smallest and the most active in the world.
In history, Taal Volcano has recorded a total of 33 eruptions, the latest being in 1977, prior to this year.
The most dangerous was recorded in 1965 where hundreds of people were killed.
Aside from Taal, another notable major volcanic eruption happened in 1991 when Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales erupted and caused major damage to the country’s economy and infrastructure after it released billions of tons of magma onto the surrounding cities and millions of tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere.
The eruption brought volcanic deposits as much as 30 feet thick, completely covering houses and structures.
The ashfall reached as far as Singapore.
Until today, remnants of the eruption are visible in the areas of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.
Another active volcano which authorities are closely monitoring due to its notable past is the Mayon Volcano in Albay, Bicol.
Mayon Volcano is admired worldwide for its beauty being famous for its ‘perfect’ cone shape.
In the past 500 years, Mt. Mayon recorded up to 47 eruptions, making it the most active volcano in the Philippines.
The most dangerous eruption recorded was in 1814 which ruined several towns and killed over a thousand people.
The church of Cagsawa in Albay served as remembrance of the eruption.
Only the tallest portion of the structure remains visible today, reflecting how dangerous the eruption was in 1814.
Other volcanos in the country remain dormant as they do not show signs of activities in the past years.
The Philippines’ foreign minister said Thursday in Manila that his country and Japan had agreed to strengthen their security ties in the South China Sea, an area in which Manila has disputed claims over various islands.
Teodoro Locsin said in a joint press conference with visiting Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu that the two countries had agreed to deepen security ties concerning the rule of law in the disputed area, which has long been the source of maritime tensions with China.
“I was pleased with my candid exchanges with Minister Motegi on issues such as rule of law in the maritime commons and the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” the minister said in the capital’s Makati Shangri-La Hotel, referring to the waters by their official Philippine name.
Locsin said that his country was “committed to continue [its] cooperation – bilaterally and in all possible forums – to maintain peace and security, stability and the rule of law in [the] region.”
Tensions and diplomatic spats between Beijing and Manila over the matter eased through 2019, with the Philippines giving in to its previous refusal to stamp Chinese passports displaying the controversial “nine-dash line” China uses to stake its claims over the sea. Such line claims territory equally disputed by Manila and countries including Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei.
The Philippine foreign minister said the disputes at sea were part of “pressing concerns” in Southeast Asia’s security environment, adding that a survey of this was a crucial factor of the matter’s strategic dialogue.
“We discussed future acquisitions in aid of the modernization of our armed forces and maritime forces,” he said. “I thanked Japan for supporting our acquisition of new air and maritime assets and equipment to enhance our maritime domain awareness and capability, as well as law enforcement and humanitarian responses.”
In Toshimitsu’s first visit to the Philippines since his September appointment, the ministers also signed infrastructural cooperation agreements to improve the country’s bridges and better protect them against the frequent seismic activities the island nation suffers year-round.
Toshimitsu is visiting the Philippines as part of a tour of Southeast Asia, which began over the weekend in Vietnam before heading to Thailand. The Japanese minister is next bound for Indonesia, his last stop prior to returning to Tokyo. EFE-EPA
Manila – The Philippines ordered Wednesday the mandatory repatriation of the country’s 6,000 nationals living in Iraq, after two bases there containing United States troops were attacked by Iran.
The Philippine Embassy in Baghdad raised the alert to “Level Four,” requiring the obligatory repatriation of Filipinos because of a large-scale internal conflict or external attack, Charge d’Affaires Jomar Sadie said in a video posted to the mission’s Facebook page.
Sadie said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued the immediate evacuation order of all his compatriots to all government agencies involved in the field.
The majority of Filipino workers in Iraq live in Kurdistan, particularly in Erbil, although there are also Filipinos in Baghdad.
The president ordered Tuesday his special Middle East envoy Roy Cimatu to travel to the region to coordinate the evacuation efforts, which will see evacuees being sent to Saudi Arabia on a Philippine Coast Guard ship, although military C-130 aircraft could also be used.
Filipinos living in other Middle Eastern countries – about 1.2 million of hem – could also be evacuated if the conflict extends throughout the region.
The threat of an armed conflict between Iran and the US increased after the latter killed Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in a Jan. 3 airstrike in Baghdad, to which Iran responded with yesterday’s launch of two missiles on US military bases in Iraqi territory.
Some 10-million Filipinos work abroad and their remittances represent about 10 percent of the country’s wealth.
Filipino workers in the Middle East sent $6.7 million in remittances to the Philippines in 2018 and $5 million between January and October 2019, according to government data.
In neighboring Indonesia, the foreign ministry said in a statement it had prepared a “contingency plan” in the event that the escalating conflict affects the 850 and 474 Indonesians residing in Iraq and Iran respectively.
The most populous Muslim country – where nearly 270 million practice Islam – has so far maintained a neutral position and called on both sides to avoid “any action that could aggravate the situation.” EFE-EPA
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