MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's pivot to China is meant to lay down the groundwork for a possible agreement to give Filipino fishermen access to fish in Scarborough Shoal, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
"I think it's a good move we've not tried yet. This official trip to China is intended to enable an agreement that will allow joint fishing," KABAYAN Party-list Rep. Harry Roque said.
"An agreement on fishing in Scarborough Shoal may be reached since the root of Philippine problems with that shoal was when Philippine authorities apprehended Chinese fishermen there years ago," he said, noting that the recent abritral ruling said that both Chinese and Filipinos have historic fishing rights in the area.
Roque, who may join the President's upcoming trip to China, said he even offered to bring Chinese authorities to Zambales to show them the loss of the livelihood of the fishermen who had been forbidden from fishing in the disputed waters.
He also concurred with the President's decision to scrap joint patrols in the disputed waters with the United States, while his colleagues in the House Minority, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza both stressed it is better to have joint patrols as the Philippines does not have the proper equipment to patrol borders on its own.