FILE PHOTO: Fishermen sort their nets in the coastal town of Masinloc, Zambales, about 130 nautical miles from disputed Scarborough Shoal, in northern Philippines April 22, 2015.
REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO
PASAY CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte, for the first time, has spoken on reports that Chinese Coast Guard personnel allegedly filched the fish catch of Filipino fishermen in Panatag Shoal.
In a speech during the 120th founding anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, June 18, the Chief Executive described the incident as a form of barter and not an outright seizure.
“It was a barter in exchange for the isda (fish). Ang problema iyong valuation. Hindi tayo nagkakaintindihan dito (The problem is valuation. We don’t understand each other). It was not an outright seizure,” explained the President.
Senator Risa Hontiveros slammed this statement of the President, saying he only seems brave when arresting poor, nighttime idlers but would not even do anything with Chinese vessels loitering in the Panatag Shoal.
Duterte, meanwhile, insisted his administration has a policy when it comes to addressing the maritime dispute. He reiterated that the Philippines has already filed a protest against China.
“If I threatened them or file a thousand protests which we did. Hindi lang natin ipinapublish iyong protesta natin (We just don’t publish our protests),” said the President.
The Chief Executive also clarified that the Woody Island is not among the territories being claimed by the Philippines where Chinese bombers were reportedly deployed.
“Woody island, it’s really somewhere, you know that. It’s too far away, it’s not even part of the islands that are claimed by the Philippines. It’s an island so far it’s not part of our territorial or economic zones,” Duterte explained.
Malacañang maintained that this is the stand of the President and it is not being influenced by any foreign leader.
“Sa tingin ko naman sa pananalita ng presidente, no one can say na merong nagpapatahimik sa presidente (The way the President speaks, no one can say that somebody is trying to keep him quiet), ” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque. – Bernard Dadis | UNTV News & Rescue