Raise sea row in ASEAN Summit – Duterte urged

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Raise sea row in ASEAN Summit – Duterte urged

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Manila, Philipines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on the second day of 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit urged President Rodrigo Duterte to raise the sea row between the country and China involving the country’s exclusive economic zone in the state leaders attending the 4-day summit.

The country hosts the 30th ASEAN Summit from April 26-29 at Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay, City.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA urged President Rodrigo Duterte not to miss a chance to bring up the issue of the maritime dispute to the Southeast Asian leaders. Despite the international tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea, China has yet to give up its claim and construction of islands and military facilities continues in the disputed waters. China’s massive reclamation activities might inflict heavy toll and irreversible damage to our marine biodiversity and moreover, to the livelihood of the Filipino fisherfolk in the long run.

Progress of bilateral talks by President Duterte with China have made the Filipino fishers return to their traditional fishing ground in Scarborough Shoal after years of being denied access to their livelihood due to Chinese harassment and intimidation.

President Duterte should not miss the boat to urge his Southeast Asian counterparts especially China to honor and respect the sovereign and territorial rights of our country over our exclusive economic zone. He must also actively assert China to stop all its reclamation activities in the South China Sea because it gradually destroys our coral reefs and other marine resources endowed in the area, affecting the livelihood of our fishermen,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

The fisherfolk group said they want to settle the dispute as peaceful and as diplomatic as possible without compromising the country’s economic affairs. PAMALAKAYA said China must completely give up their irrational claim over the sea without imposing unequal economic and trade deals as a condition.

Unfair trade and economic deals under the framework of liberalization always lead to further exploitation and plunder of our economy and resources. Duterte must exude extra cautious in dealing with China not to compromise our domestic economy and sovereign rights, instead, he must stay true to his promise to pursue an independent foreign policy,” ended Hicap. ###

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