‘Understanding’ reached on shoal


    MANILA and Beijing have reached a “friendly” understanding allowing Filipinos to fish around a disputed shoal seized by Beijing in 2012, a senior aide to President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday.

    The understanding was reached during Duterte’s recent meeting in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

    As a result, he said, in recent days Filipino fishermen have been able to fish unmolested at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) while Chinese government vessels have patrolled nearby.

    “There is no agreement… but our president believes that our fishermen will no longer be harassed because he already brought up this matter” during his visit to China, Esperon told the media.

    “The coastguard of China is there, but their navy is gone. And now, our fishermen are no longer being accosted, no longer being forced out, so we can say things are now friendly,” he added.

    China took control of Panatag Shoal, 230 kilometers (140 miles) west of Luzon, in 2012. It had been driving away Filipino fishermen from the rich fishing ground, sometimes using water cannon.

    Panatag still PH territory
    Esperon stressed that neither country dropped its claim to the shoal, with China insisting on its “historical rights.”

    He emphasized that the area is part of Philippine territory and lies within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) guaranteed of coastal states under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos. China is a signatory to the agreement.

    The Cabinet official cited the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague that there was no legal basis for Beijing’s claims to much of the South China Sea.

    The Philippines however acknowledges that China has historical rights to the area in the same way that the Philippines asserts its own historical rights to the “traditional fishing ground,” Esperon said.

    The government, he said, would continue to assert the Philippine claim, but not now.

    “When we go to another round of talks we will again assert it,” Esperon said.

    Climate has changed
    Nonetheless the “climate has changed” as far as Manila-Beijing relations are concerned, he said.

    “We are back to traditional fishing grounds, it’s as if its been recognized as a traditional fishing ground. That’s what is prevailing right now … there is no talk on territorial rights, there is no talk on assertion of rights, but they respect our traditional rights,” said Esperon.

    He said Duterte and Xi decided to sidestep the dispute to repair frayed ties during the Philippine leader’s state visit to China last month.

    Esperon said Duterte’s position was that the Philippines also had historical rights to the area, which was bolstered by the international tribunal ruling in July.

    “The other leader also reiterated that historically that is their territory so it was not resolved. Since there was no resolution, why allow yourselves to be in that confrontational position when you can talk about economic relations, trade relations, right?” he said.

    “It’s a win-win situation. But this is not to say that we have dropped our claim because we have asserted it also, the President reiterated it,” he added.

    Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino 3rd, had brought the arbitration case before the international tribunal that resulted in the resounding victory over China.


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    1. It is not a win win situation. Its an status quo. The situation is still volatile. The sooner Ph asserts its sovereignty, the better. China should get out of sight of our territory.

    2. News by Associated Press –November 1, 2016 4:51pm

      Headline : Japan protests China’s drilling activity in East China sea

      Comment: If China can drill at the sea between China and Japan, don’t the Filipinos ever think that it is only a matter of time, the China’s next drilling will be at the Philippine sea? Oil and natural gas are far far more valuable than the fish at the Philippine sea. Common sense dictates that the ugly Chinese will give the Filipinos the fish; then they will keep the oil and natural gas. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Philippines can not confront China on the position of strength because the Philippines is a helpless power. ANG MGA INSICK SOBRA TUSO. They export low qualities of products into the USA. There are also many fake designer items from China. Much more so, destructive toys are China’s export into the USA. You can not have a fair deal with China. It is already in their DNA. The Philippines must be cautious in dealing with China. BTW since time immemorial Japan and China have been war enemies. MABUTI NA SANA KUNG BANATAN NG JAPAN ANG CHINA. ANYWAY, JAPAN HAS STRONG ALLIES–South Korea and the USA.

    3. Great accomplishment! Why go to war when we can be good neighbors and help each other. China will be a big help to our economy so with the other nations like Japan, Russia and South Korea. Ito ang hindi maintindihan ng ilang kababayan. They want to fight with China when we cannot afford to do so and we have no benefit at all. They cry when the President declared an independent foreign policy and accused him of so and so. In the end, the good result of the President’s action will dissolve such feeble mindedness.

    4. Another piece of Philippine territory practically lost.Let us not delude ourselves.What would be next ?Palawan?Mindanao?To be given away?

      I voted for Mr.Duterte last election to put the country back in order after Aquino messed up the country.Not to dabble in foreign affairs which is not his forte.

      Ang sa akin lang ay bilang Pilipino ay dapat ipagtanggol ang ating bayan.Kahit matalo pa tayo ay maipakita man lang natin na mahal natin ang ating bayan.Walang bansa na rerespeto sa atin kung wala pa ngang pumuputok maski isang utot ay sasabihin na nang presidente na hindi natin kayang ipagtanggol ang bansa natin.Sa mga Duterte partisans ang sa akin lang ay ang Pilipinas na aking bayan.Hindi ko sinasabi na patalsikin ang presidente na pag pinuna mo ang mga hakbang niya ay aatakihin ka kaagad sa social media ng mga rabid partisan.Hindi ako panig sa mga lintik,salot at pesteng mga dillaw ni Aquino.

    5. Good enough accomplishment from DU30 China visit. We hope the other infra-contracts he signed with china wiill be finished before his term expires. We don’t need Mona Lisa projects like the North Rail, it sucks.