South China Sea
Group slams absence of external security allocation in 2018 defense budget
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday questioned the 2018 proposed budget for the Department of National Defense (DND) that is worth P145 billion if this includes the development of external defense that will uphold our territory and sovereignty against foreign intervention, particularly against China who continues to claim most part of the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA lambasts the large budget allocation for the national defense which will definitely be used for its repressive war campaigns such as the all-out-war and martial law in the whole Mindanao.
“Instead of developing our external defense capabilities, the government is more devoted to its self-declared war against its so-called internal threat which actually targets ordinary civilians on the ground. We are dismayed that President Duterte has no plan to modernize our naval equipments to defend our sovereign rights from China’s illegal occupation and reclamation in our waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group says increasing the fighting capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should curtail the external threat rather than using it to intensify attacks against its own people under the banner of total war, war against drugs, and war on terror.
“The budget for defense is obviously a coffer to step up state-perpetrated offensives against the Filipino people especially those who actively resist government’s repressive policies and laws. President Duterte downplays the evident threat to our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” added Hicap.
China’s intrusion should top the agenda in the ASEAN meet – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Saturday urged Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayteno to make the sea row, particularly China’s unabated reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea as the top agenda on the 50th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is currently being held in Manila this weekend.
The fisherfolk group raises doubt on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea that the ASEAN delegates will primarily tackle in the series of meetings, saying the proposed framework is neither legally binding nor enforceable.
China has already reclaimed seven reefs in the West Philippine Sea; three of them now facilitate the installation of military facilities. All of the reclaimed reefs and islands are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS) as stated by the 2012 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The 2016 international tribunal ruling strengthens our legal claim over the disputed maritime territory.
The group also urged Cayetano to retract President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to enter a joint oil and gas exploration agreement with China in the West Philippine Sea because it could lead to total sell-out of our sovereignty to Beijing.
PAMALAKAYA fears the proposed joint venture with China would lead to another deprivation of Filipino fishermen to their traditional fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea because the fishing area might be declared as off limits for fishing activities once the joint exploration takes place. Another concern raised by the fisherfolk group is China’s highly sophisticated drilling rigs and exploration equipments that could exploit our marine and mineral resources.
“We urge Secretary Cayetano to raise the issue of Chinese illegal occupation and reclamation in the West Philippine Sea. These are the opportunities that the diplomat official shouldn’t miss. We expect Cayetano to diplomatically and actively assert our sovereign and territorial rights before the ASEAN delegates,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Aside from China and the Philippines, other countries who have overlapping claims over the South China Sea are Tauwa, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. ###
Joint exploration in West Philippine Sea immoral and unconstitutional – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – The national alliance of fisherfolk Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday opposed the plan of President Rodrigo Duterte to engage in a joint gas and oil exploration with China in the contested West Philippine Sea, saying this means total surrender of our territory and patrimony to Beijing.
West Philippine Sea is part of the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS), therefore, only the Philippines has the right to explore, develop, and utilize its natural resources as stated in the National Economy and Patrimony provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
The fisherfolk group claims we have the entire historical, legal, and political basis to exercise our right over the disputed West Philippine Sea and they are dismayed by how President Duterte abandons these bases.
“After all the hard work and tireless efforts we’ve made to make the world recognize our right in West Philippine Sea, the President seems to waste it all by approving joint oil and gas exploration in our water. President Duterte has gone overboard to compromise our territory; he does nothing to stop Chinese reclamation activities in West Philippine Sea that threaten its marine biodiversity, he lets giant Chinese fishing vessels to exploit our marine resources leaving less for Filipino fishermen, and now he wants to open the area for unequal joint exploration. With China’s more sophisticated exploration technology, there would be nothing left to us,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk slams China’s military bases in Kalayaan Islands
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) lashes out at China over the ongoing construction of military facilities in the three major reefs in Spratly Group of Islands, a part of the West Philippine Sea located 280 nautical miles away from the province of Palawan.
New satellite images show missile shelters and radar communications facilities are being built on the Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Mischief (Panganiban), and Subi (Zamora) reefs in the country’s Kalayaan group of islands.
For decades now, China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea using their 9-dash line assumption as historical basis.
PAMALAKAYA said China has been disrespectful ever since to our territory despite the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international law which states that the waters being claimed by China in the South China Sea are indisputably part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS). The group said the country’s legal basis to claim the waters strengthens when we won before the international court of arbitration in June last year.
“China shows no respect in our sovereign rights and territory by continuously installing artificial islands intended for military use. We demand China to humbly give up its unjust claim over our territory because they deeply destroy our marine resources that would eventually backlash to the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk and to the country’s food security,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Don’t go soft on China, assert right in West Ph Sea – Fisherfolk to Duterte
Manila, Philippines – As China is pouring billions of dollars of loan grants for Philippine infrastructure projects, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) expresses fear that President Rodrigo Duterte might be blinded by the investments and fail to assert our rightful claim over the disputed West Philippine Sea.
China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea or equivalent to 80% of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS) through the 9-dash line assumption. Even with the decision of the international tribunal favoring the Philippines’ claim over the sea, China refuses to comply with the verdict. It was almost 4 years that the Filipino fisherfolk were deprived by Chinese personnel to fish in Scarborough Shoal until President Duterte’s first state visit to Beijing on October last year that led to our cordial relation with China. But even so, China has yet to completely surrender its irrational claim over the disputed waters as it continues to build artificial structures intended for military facilities.
Although PAMALAKAYA welcomes President Duterte’s effort to demand China to respect the rights of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, the fisherfolk group scores the major turn back of President Duterte on its promise to actively assert our legal and political rights to end China’s illegal occupation in our territory. As President Duterte’s economic policy shifts towards China, the group fears it equates to complete disregard of our unresolved maritime dispute with Beijing.
West Philippine Sea is a strategic fishing hub for Filipino fishers. It produces an average of 5,000 metric tons of fish products per year. Fisherfolk from Zambales, Bataan, Pangasinan, and Batangas rely on its rich marine resources.
Fisherfolk welcomes new name of ‘Benham Rise’, calls to strengthen our claim over the plateau
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) welcomes the renaming of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise as a way to exercise our claim over the 13-million hectare resource rich underwater ridge.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed the Executive Order No. 25 renaming the undersea feature.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said a welcome development to assert our rightful claim over the rise. The group urges President Duterte to fortify the protection of our territory from any foreign fishing fleets that exploit our waters and marine resources.
“Whether it is named Benham Rise or Philippine Rise, as long as the government allows foreign commercial fishing vessels to enter our territory, we may not be able to fully utilize our water. What’s in a name when the Filipino fisherfolk are not the ones who benefit from the abundance of our marine territory,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Ph negotiators told to review position on China-led RCEP
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday urged the Filipino negotiators in the 18th meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to review the guidelines and context of the inter-regional free trade and economic pact before ratifying into agreements.
The 18th RCEP meeting, which is being hosted by the Philippines started on May 2 and will end on May 12. The country’s main negotiator on the meeting is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
RCEP is China-led mega-regional free trade agreement that covers half of the world’s population, 38% of the world economy and nearly 30% of the world’s trade volume. China aims to reach the agreement by the end of 2017 or early 2018. It is Beijing’s counter free trade agreement to U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement which U.S. President Donald Trump has recently pulled out.
For its part, the fisherfolk group expresses doubt on why the RCEP is being negotiated in secret like the TPP and other past free trade agreements. The group said it is the prerogative of the public to be involved in a pre-consultation before entering into any agreement especially if it involves the country’s economic affairs. Past free trade agreements that were also secretly negotiated surprised the people that their sovereign and economic rights were already compromised and sold to powerful nations that lead the trade pact.