Yes, help our fishermen by talking to China, but…


SUPREME Court Justice Antonio Carpio is right. The Philippine government should help Filipino fishermen get access to the waters that have been their—and Chinese and other Southeast Asian peoples’—traditional fishing ground in the South China (West Philippine) Sea. And help the cash-strapped fishermen because they have no income.

The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled that virtually says that what we call the West Philippine Sea is Philippine territory, meaning it is within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as defined by international covenants and protocols. Therefore, China’s PLA Navy and Coast Guard ships must not harass and drive away Filipino fishermen.

But despite the UN ruling, China has not budged an inch in its physical control of the areas it claims to have sovereign rights to. These are the seas—and the reefs and islets located inside the nine-dash line that China has drawn on the map of the region. That nine-dash line encircles practically the whole South China Sea, including Philippine waters.

Carpio’s call for the Philippine government to help our fisherman is, therefore, a wish. For, in fact, our Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. was poised to have talks with China but retreated from it when his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, issued the precondition that the UN PCA decision in favor of the Philippines would not be discussed.

China had earlier berated the UN tribunal’s decision as illegal, null and void, and a farce.
At the outset, China declared its position that the tribunal had no jurisdiction over the Philippine-initiated suit against China. The suit had asked for UN help to make China desist from taking over Philippine waters, reefs and islets. It also had asked the UN to chide China for its nine-dash line claim. The UN tribunal ruled in our favor, declaring China’s nine-dash-line null and void. It also ordered China to get out of the reefs and islets it had taken over and to stop preventing Filipino fishermen from fishing in the West Philippine Sea.

Alas, the UN Tribunal for disputes arising out of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has no means of enforcing its decisions.

China has ignored what virtually all countries, except China and its known close friends and dependents, have praised.

Beijing has declared that it will continue its construction activities in the South China Sea despite the UNCLOS PCA ruling against its claims to rights in the disputed waters.

A Xinhua report quoted Wu Shengli, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, as telling his US counterpart, Admiral John Richardson, “We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands. …”

Filipino fishermen have not been able to resume fishing in the Scarborough Shoal, known to Filipino fisher folk as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc because it is close to Masinloc, Zambales.

So what are we to do—aside from expressing our disgust with sarcasm as President Rody Duterte did yesterday?

Speaking before the troops of the 6th Infantry in Mindanao, the President took a jab at China’s greedy claims and said, “I want to tell them (China), okay, okay, take everything, take the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, too, they’re all yours.”
It was not in the report but if it was the Rody Duterte speaking before he became our President, he would have ended that sentence with “You greedy bastards, mga p_ _ _ _ g ina!”

Meanwhile, our fishermen must be helped to resume making a living. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Naval and Coast Guard ships must be made to stop blocking our fishermen and chasing them away.

Maybe it’s time to ask the US Navy to come and help, while Yasay unceasingly bugs Beijing to sit down and talk—about everything, including the UN ruling.


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  1. If we want to start bilateral talks with China based on the decision of the permanent court of arbitration we will only hit the hard wall because china has declared that it consider the decision as merely scrap paper and don’t care what what the American, japanese and other think of it.and from the way it look, the Philippines got plenty of cheering squads but none offered their armed forces to come to automatic rescue if we will try to enforced the I think the best is to give diplomacy another try. The art of diplomacy is not to forced on each other throat the adversarial views. It consist of threading the least resistant paths by first finding something that can be commonly agreed, for starters,convincing China to let our fishermen earn their livelihood by letting them fish in Scarborough, ayungin and mischief shoals-then maybe we can offer them a guaranty assuring them that under no circumstances shall the Philippines connives with any powers againsts their interests and security in this part of Pacific-for instance, mutually declaring that south China sea or west philippines sea is a sea of peace and therefore, all military installations and maritime military movements under the guise of freedom of navigation shall be disallowed.SC Justice Antonio Carpio suggested a win win solution by getting both parties to declare the said waters as a marine Eco park for at least a hundred years and therefore all land reclamations should be stop to restore the reefs and corrals. While these developments are not a violation of our constitution,we can earned the Chinese respect and good will and induced them to help us in our anti drug campaigns from their side and invests heavily to our local infrastructures.By letting china saves her face,convincing her that we are not her enemy but a friendly neighbor who is deeply concerned on her welfare and will protect her legitimate national interests,we can hopefully settle our mutual dispute which the the decision of Permanent court of arbitration may never settled.

  2. Pressuring the DFA specifically to regain access to Scarborough Shoal is going to result in a very unfair trade. The shoal is a Chinese bargaining chip and so are Mischief and 2nd Thomas.

    Asking US Navy to go in not only will be refused, but would make Philippines the bad guys for resorting to violence.

    Philippines has earned the moral high ground and should keep it. Let the world shame China into following its treaty commitments. That will work better than any UNCLOS ‘enforcement mechanism’.

  3. vic penetrante on

    I have omitted ‘know’ in my last sentence, which should be: We are letting the whole world know the situation to prevent war.

  4. vic penetrante on

    We should keep telling the whole world we need help. China is not heeding the arbitration court and keeps on preventing our fishermen from doing their livelihood. We are a small country and cannot fight China. And we do not want the US to do the fighting for us. We are letting the whole world the situation to prevent war.

  5. Orr fishermen lost their livelihood because China is prohibiting them to. Ban all Chinese made products to enter our sovereign country and they will get the message!

  6. To help our fishermen is to deploy our navy and coast guard in the area. Are we cowards?.