West Philippine Sea
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 warns Duterte on Silk Road-deals
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday cautioned President Rodrigo Duterte on the economic and trade deals he would enter with China that could compromise our sovereign and territorial rights.
President Rodrigo Duterte is currently in Beijing for a two-day summit on China’s foreign policy program or the Silk Road dubbed as One Belt, One Road Initiative.
PAMALAKAYA said it is hard to trust that China would benevolently grant billions of dollar aid to the Philippines when we have unresolved issue with the former especially in the disputed West Philippine Sea. Beijing has been posing its irrational claim over our exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf that had resulted to the deprivation of Filipino fishers to enter their traditional fishing ground. Although China has allowed Filipino fisherfolk to fish in Scarborough Shoal since last year, they have yet to completely surrender their claim over the waters; they even continue to build permanent structures in the area.
“Given the unresolved sea row and China’s forceful claim over our water, it is improbable that they will charitably provide assistance to us. We fear that the assistance like infrastructure projects that China has to offer will require our complete surrender of our territory in the West Philippine Sea,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group said history shows that flooding our country with foreign investments does not help our economy to advance; instead, these unfair economic and trade deals retain embedded with foreign investments retain our weak economy backward because we merely rely to foreign aid without developing our own basic industries.
“We urge President Duterte not to get dazzled by China’s billions of aid, instead, he must make good on his promise in pursuing independent foreign policy for genuine development. He must also actively assert our rightful claim in the West Philippine Sea to save our marine resources from further destruction due to China’s rampant reclamation activities,” ended Hicap. ###
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 mourns the passing of former-Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) laments the death of former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani. The former-Senator dies of illness on Monday morning.
“We mourn the death of our brave-patriotic ally former-Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani. We lost a real patriot in the midst of the intensified violations of our sovereign and territorial rights committed by several foreign powers including China who has yet to give up its irrational claim on our territory and now plans to build permanent structure in Scarborough Shoal,”
“Former-Senator Shahani was active and consistent in joining protest actions in defense of our sovereignty against Chinese incursions and other foreign meddling. She actively campaigned and promoted independent foreign policy with the central objective of liberating our country from all types of foreign dictates and domination in the name of genuine independence,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Former Senator Shahani was also a convener of the broad-patriotic alliance Pilipinong Nagkakaisa Para sa Soberanya (P1NAS) which spearheaded numerous campaigns in fighting our sovereignty and territorial integrity. On September 2015, she joined the national fact finding mission led by PAMALAKAYA and P1NAS in Zambales to study the adverse socio-economic effects of Chinese incursion on the Filipino fishermen.
Shahani served as a Senator from 1987 until 1996. ###
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. ###