WE noted, in this space last Thursday under the title “We’ve won a monumental UN victory, so what?” that small-scale fisherfolk didn’t have much to rejoice about—unless the international court decision makes China stop being a bully.
Some small-time fisherfolk do feel greatly overjoyed, however, according to the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
We received the official statement of the NAPC Artisanal Fisherfolk Sectoral Council, in Tagalog. We have translated it into English to share it with you, our readers.
But first, here are the first two paragraphs of the statement in Tagalog to give those of you who read—and understand—Tagalog a feel of the original:
HUSTISYA PARA SA MALILIIT NA MANGINGISDA, TAGUMPAY PARA SA MGA PILIPINO
Kami mula sa mga pambansa at lokal na samahan ng mangingisda na siyang kumakatawan sa sector bilang kasapi sa konseho ng NAPC Artisanal Fisherfolk ay lubos na nagpapahayag ng kagalakan kaugnay sa naging paborableng desisyon ng UN International Tribunal sa The Hague kung saan pormal na ipinagkaloob sa Pilipinas ang karapatan sa buong pagmamay-ari ng mga teritoryo sa West Philippine Sea na sapilitang inangkin ng bansang Tsina.
Ito ay maituturing na pagkamit sa hustisya sa matagal nang kaso na inihain para sa soberenya ng ating bansa kaakibat ang pagtitiyak sa proteksyon ng mga kababayan nating walang pakundangang itinataboy habang naghahanapbuhay sa pinag-aagawang mga teritoryo.
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Now here’s our quick translation of the statement:
JUSTICE FOR SMALL-SCALE FISHERMEN,
VICTORY FOR FILIPINOS
[Official Statement of the National Anti-Poverty Commission Artisanal Fisherfolk Sectoral Council]
We, from national and local organizations of fishermen that comprise the sector’s representation as the Artisanal Fisherfolk member of the council of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, express our utmost happiness over the favorable decision of the UN International Tribunal, in The Hague, which formally ruled that the Philippines has the rights to full ownership of the West Philippine Sea territory, which China has forcibly claimed to be its own.
It can be considered from this event that justice has been achieved in our long-pending lawsuit filed to reaffirm the sovereignty of our country over those waters as well as to guarantee the protection of our citizens, who are summarily driven away from the disputed territories while they are doing their livelihood work.
This dispute has had a profound effect on the lives and livelihood of affected fisherfolk and worsened the plight of our poor and contributed to the further suffering of our companions. Thanks to the efforts of the representatives of our government, who boldly faced China at the International Tribunal, we triumphed in getting the formal decision, giving us straightforward rights over the sovereign territories that are truly our properties.
But all these come with the new challenges to our citizens and our government to continue to ensure general respect for local and national laws, especially those provisions stating the legitimate rights of small-scale fishermen, particularly their freedom to fish freely in our country’s sovereign territories without fearing for their lives.
We also wish to address our government and persuade it to make a meaningful response to these new developments. It is now time to discuss the establishment of a Department of Fisheries to better protect the rights of our small-scale fishermen as well as our country’s entire fishing industry.
We now have in our hands the opportunity to firmly assert our sovereignty and at the same time promote the development of while at the same time reaping benefits from the natural wealth of our territorial waters. For this to be sustainable, we are ready to invest our strength and our resources in the continuation of reforms to advance and enrich our fishery and our country’s economy as a whole.
Long live the Philippines, Long live the Filipino People, Long live the Small-scale Fishermen!
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May the relevant agencies of our government pay attention to the small-scale fisherfolk’s appeal.