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.
Assert sovereign rights against China – Duterte urged
Manila, Philippines – Responding from the news that China is gearing to build its first permanent structure in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipians (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) tells President Rodrigo Duterte to exude extra vigilance because this might result to the deprivation of the Filipino fishers and complete takeover of Bejing in Scarborough Shoal.
Scarborough Shoal is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone of which China has been posing its claim through the 9-dash line assumption. China has yet to give up its unjust claim over the Philippine territory despite the international arbitration’s ruling last year favoring the Philippines’ claim on the disputed West Philippine Sea. The environmental monitoring station to be situated on features of Beijing-controlled Paracel islands, according to a Chinese official is among their government’s top priorities for 2017.
The fisherfolk group fears that this might compromise the livelihood of the Filipino fishers who were already able to return to their traditional fishing grounds last year after President Duterte’s diplomatic talk with China.
“We cherish the developments that our country and China have reached towards a diplomatic resolution of the dispute, but building permanent structure to strengthen their irrational claim and probably military presence in our territory is too much. Our cordial relation with China recently doesn’t mean that we have given up our claim on the disputed waters. We are always ready to defend our territory by all means,”
“China has no any legal, moral and political right to settle any permanent structure in the disputed waters. They must respect the international ruling and acknowledge that the West Philippine Sea rightfully belongs to the Filipino people,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA also warns China to back off from Benham Rise otherwise they will be subjected to chorus of criticisms from the international community have they plan to intrude on the 13-million hectare underwater resource-rich territory of the country. Presence of a Chinese vessel in Benham Rise has been monitored by a defense official last week.
“We urge President Duterte to actively assert our sovereign rights against China and other foreign intruders. No one but the Filipino people has the right to utilize and maximize our marine resource. The administration must lead our nation in protecting and defending our sovereignty and not create a single breach that would make our territory out of our possession,” Hicap ended. ###