Fishers doubt Chinese-backtracking of permanent structure in Panatag Shoal
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) is cynical on China’s recent statement withdrawing the previous reports on its plan to build a permanent structure in the disputed Paracel islands including Philippine-owned Scarborough Shoal.
A Chinese local official last week has claimed that the environmental monitoring structure to be built in Paracel islands is one of Beijing’s top priorities this year. But a Chinese foreign ministry yesterday has denied the previous reports.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said China’s backtracking of their previous pronouncement might only be to abate public tensions and sentiments that escalate quickly over the planned-permanent construction in the Philippine territory.
“The Chinese local official won’t utter a statement out of nowhere; his original pronouncement must be derived from somewhere. Beijing can only prove their sincerity on preserving the South China Sea if they concede from the international tribunal decision and completely halt their reclamation activities on the disputed waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
China’s unjust claim over the Philippine-owned waters has been accompanied with widespread and unabated reclamation activities including those in Calderon Reef, Burgos Reef, Hugs Reef and Mabini reef; all are part of Spratly islands.
“Chinese massive reclamation activities have been causing heavy toll and irreversible damage to our marine biodiversity and on the livelihood of the Filipino fishers in the long run. This is also violation of our territorial and sovereign rights as well as international law,” Hicap said.
The fisherfolk group meanwhile warns President Rodrigo Duterte to be extra cautious on his economic deals with China that could lead to the latter’s complete takeover of our sovereignty. PAMALAKAYA slams the President’s unruffled reactions on the Chinese presence in Benham Rise and the report that it plans to build permanent structure in our territory.
“We are disappointed by President Duterte’s serene response over the issue. This is a matter of our territorial and sovereign rights and the President must act and respond accordingly as a head of state to protect what is rightfully ours. It is the livelihood of the poor Filipino fishers that will always be at stake if China has completely took control accompanied with intensified militarization of the West Philippine Sea,” Hicap ended. ###