President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday the Philippines retained its right to exploit the resources in its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea even as he allowed China to fish there.
Critics have alleged that Duterte may have committed an impeachable offense over the fishing deal as they pointed out that only the Philippines has the right to fish in the country's waters including the 200-nautical mile EEZ.
“So ako ngayon, sabi nila ‘Bakit mo pinayagan ang China?’ Sabi ko, ‘As far as I'm concerned, I'm the owner, and I'm just giving the fishing rights.’ Galit sila kung bakit ko raw pinapaisda 'yung ano,” Duterte said in an interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s television program.
“Eh kung hindi ko rin payagan, sabihin ng Amerikano --- Chinese, ‘Bakit? Kinahanglan (Is it needed) pa ba kami magpermiso sa iyo?’ O eh 'di pagsabi nilang ‘Huwag ganun,’ eh di mangisda ka.”
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), nationals of other states fishing in the EEZ of a coastal state should comply with the conservation measures and with the other terms and conditions established in the laws and regulations of that country.
Both the Philippines and China are signatories to the UNCLOS which aims to govern the use of offshore areas and sets territorial limits of coastal states.
Duterte had repeatedly said China is in possession of nearly the entire South China Sea despite the UN-backed tribunal’s decision in 2016 that invalidated Beijing’s expansive claim to the resource-rich waterway.
He also refused to provoke China into war over the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea being claimed by Manila, arguing it will only result in a massacre of Filipino troops.
“I will not only be able to protect the fishes and the butete, and the danggits, I will blow this entire nation to pieces. If I go to war? Ah wala. No match,” he said.
Duterte said last week that he might use his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22 to “educate” his critics on his verbal fishing deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping. — RSJ, GMA News