PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Tuesday announced that he has tasked government agencies to study the prospects of entering into a fisheries deal with Taiwan in the aftermath of a diplomatic row resulting from the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman.
Aquino said once the issue with Taipei has been resolved, the fisheries cooperation agreements would be tackled to prevent a similar incident in the future.
But the President said he cautioned the assigned agencies against violating certain provisions of the Constitution with regard to such agreements.
“Guarding the national patrimony provisions of the Constitution will come into play,” Aquino said. “So, after we finish this issue, we will talk to every neighbor that we have to ensure peaceful and equally prosperous relations with everybody.”
Once done, Aquino said he wants a similar deal forged with other neighboring countries to prevent disputes at sea.
Meanwhile, an official of one of the foreign airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) also on Tuesday said passengers will suffer more inconvenience if Taiwan decides to pull out their two commercial airlines from the Manila route.
“It is not good for the business because it will not be productive. It will be counter-productive for both countries,” the airline official, who requested anonymity, said.
The two Taiwanese flag carriers that have direct flights to Manila are China Airlines and Eva Air. On the other hand, Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) and Zest Air are the local airlines so far that have direct flights to Taipei.
Taiwan’s suspension of tourist travels to the Philippines has also affected Zest Air, prompting the airline to halt its daily chartered flights between Kalibo and Taipei until the tensions cooled down.
Engineer Percy Malonesio, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) at the Kalibo International Airport (KIA), announced on Tuesday that cancellations of flights to and from Taiwan will begin on May 22.
“We have received information from the Mandarin Airlines that they will be cancelling their flights coming from Taiwan beginning tomorrow. We expect notifications from other airline companies such as the Zest Airlines and the Philippine Airlines to also follow through anytime today,” Malonesio said. “We consider Taiwanese tourists important factor to our economy. Yet, we have stable flights coming from Korea and China right now,” he added.
Butch Rodriguez, senior vice president of Zest Air, confirmed the move.
“We have been servicing this route since 2011 and hope to resume operations soon.
Boracay is a popular destination for Taiwanese tourists who are our country’s fifth biggest market,” he added.
With reports from Sheila T. Manalac, Benjie Vergara And Rosalie Periabras