South China Sea
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.
Raise sea row in ASEAN Summit – Duterte urged
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.
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.
Fisherfolk to Duterte: Assert sovereignty against foreign intervention
Manila, Philippines – “President Duterte must fervently uphold our sovereignty against any foreign domination, whether it be the United States (U.S.) or China,”
This was the response of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) when a Washington-based think tank group Center for Strategic and International Studies (CISS) said to President Rodrigo Duterte to assert the country’s right over the disputed West Philippine Sea.
China for years has been posing its irrational claim in almost 90% of the South China Sea, of which $5 trillion dollar-worth of global ship trade passes each year. This includes the 80% of the country’s 220-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and another 150 extended continental shelf (ECS). The dispute has inflicted threat to the livelihood of the Filipino fishers who were deprived of their traditional fishing grounds since the sea row occurred. But due to the collective action of the patriotic sectors in the country and the initiative of the Duterte administration to talk diplomatically to China, the Filipino fishers have now been able to return to their fishing ground since last year.
White House intervention to South China Sea a threat to peaceful settlement with China – fisherfolk group
White House intervention to South China Sea a threat to peaceful settlement with
China – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – Responding from the newly elected United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) has warned the White House on the possible implications of their intervention on the South China Sea affairs. The White House on Monday vowed to stop China from taking South China Sea islands to “defend international waters from being taken by only one country”.
China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea, of which $5-trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes every year. It has built artificial islands over the contested waters and constructs military facilities and airstrips. Over the years, China has been antagonistic and aggressive towards fishermen who sail within their claimed-territories including the Filipino fisherfolk who experienced violent harassments and intimidations from Chinese personnel.
But due to the continuous resistance of the Filipino people and fishers to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, China has forced to respect the rights of the Filipino fishers on their traditional fishing ground in Scarborough Shoal. Although Beijing has yet to totally give up its claim on the disputed waters, the Filipino fishers have consider this as an initial victory because they are now able to sail onto their traditional fishing ground which they were deprived for years.
Marine sanctuary might leave Scarborough Shoal wide open to foreign poachers –
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) told President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his decision to declare the lagoon in Scarborough Shoal as a marine sanctuary for a reason to preserve the deteriorating marine resources in the fishing water.
Scarborough Shoal, which is 124 nautical miles away from the shoreline of the province of Zambales is part of the country’s 220-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 150-nautical mile extended continental shelf (ECS). China takes its full control in the shoal on 2012 and aggressively prevented the Filipino fishermen from entering in the disputed waters. But after President Duterte’s state visit to China last October, Filipino fishers have now been able to return to their traditional fishing grounds.
Pamalakaya said declaring the lagoon as marine protected area might again result to depriving the Filipino fishers of their right to livelihood and fishing zones.
“Marine sanctuary might bring back the situation where Filipino fishers are not allowed to enter our own territory, but this time it will be our own law and government that will prohibit them, not China. Filipino fishers have yet to recover after years of deprivation and restriction from the West Philippine Sea. We fear that declaring it as marine sanctuary would pave way for another fishing blockade,” Hicap said.
Fishers rejoice as they return to Scarborough Shoal
Manila, Philippines – The patriotic fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) rejoices as the Filipino fishers are now able to return and fish in the Scarborough Shoal.
Since Tuesday, Filipino fishers from Zambales and Pangasinan have been fishing in Scarborough Shoal without them being harassed and chased by the Chinese Coast Guards unlike before. This was after President Duterte’s state visit to China last October 18-21 where he had an informal talk with an unnamed Chinese leader regarding the territorial dispute.
“We welcome President Duterte’s concrete deeds to make our fishermen return to their traditional fishing grounds in Scarborough Shoal. Moreover, it is an initial victory for the Filipino fishermen who consistently aired their collective voices to assert their rights to the West Philippine Sea. Without the unity of the fisherfolk and other patriotic sectors and alliance who took up to the streets and engaged with government officials, we may not be able to take our territory back,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson said in a statement.