MANILA Mayor and Aksyon Demokratiko presidential bet Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso on Thursday vowed to fight for the country's sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) should he win in the May 2022 polls.

"We will be fearless in fighting for what is ours. We will insist The Hague ruling. But at the same time, as being fearless, we are going to be fair with our discussion and management of the situation on both sides," Domagoso said during a townhall meeting in Zambales.

He said he would assert the Philippines' 2016 tribunal win and improve the armed forces' capacity to defend the country's territorial waters so that small fisherfolk can reclaim their access to abundant fishing grounds.

Accompanied by his running mate Dr. Willie Ong and senatorial bets Samira Gutoc, Dr. Carl Balita and Jopet Sison, Domagoso listened to stories of how Chinese vessels anchored near Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal harassed local fisherfolk.

Also known as Bajo de Masinloc, the disputed waterway situated inside the country's 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone serves as traditional fishing ground for Filipino fisherfolk.

Nearly all fishermen in the province have stopped venturing into the area because of the harassment from the Chinese Coast Guard and depletion of fish population.

"Chinese fishermen have been overfishing, depleting our marine resources. They even sell their catch to our fishermen at higher price," said Domagoso.

"We will be faithful to our farmers and fisherfolk. Ang mga mangingisda, dapat makapangisda sa loob ng ating teritoryo sa dagat. At iyon ang magaganap (Our fishermen must be able to fish within our maritime territory. And that's what will happen) — undeterred, peaceful and productive fishing opportunities under our rules — Filipino fishermen first," he added.

Domagoso said that if he wins, his goal is to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement with ally nations and stake holders.

"Treaties will be recognized. Trade with America, Vietnam, China and all other nations will continue because (the) WPS issue is far different from our economic issue in terms of trade. We'll take that as an opportunity for us to gain, for the people to gain, for the country to gain," he said.