MANILA — The Philippines' recent fishing deal with China needs to be clarified and disclosed to the public, a maritime law expert said on Tuesday.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last week said that instead of a "partnership," Manila and Beijing recently an agreement in which "China will not stop our fishermen from fishing" in the West Philippine Sea.
"Tama lang na magkaroon ng clarification na hindi nila, na hindi sila pipigil sa atin at hindi ito dapat i-interpret din na pahintulot," maritime expert Jay Batongbacal told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
"Dapat ang palalabasin dito ay medyo finally nagre-relent na sila, kinikilala na nila iyong talagang karapatan natin diyan sa West Philippine Sea."
(It is only right to have a clarification that they are not, that they will not stop us and this should not be interpreted as permission either. What this should show is that they are finally relenting somehow, that they recognize our right to the West Philippine Sea.)
China and the Philippines are at odds over the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire area despite an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
Batongbacal said it is important for the Marcos administration to disclose the "exact wording" of the agreement, whether it's a formal or verbal agreement.
"Kung may kasulatan doon mahalang makita ang wording ay pinapahintulutan daw tayo," he said.
"Pero kung sabihin lang nila na nag-commit sila na di na nila tayo pipigilan, di na sila mag-i-interfere sa ating pangingisda medyo siguro acceptable na iyon kasi parang puwede rin iyong ma-interpret na nire-recognize nila na talaga namang dapat tayong nangingisda sa sarili nating katubigan at wala silang karapatan na pigilan tayo," he added.
(If there is an agreement there, it is important to see the wording in which they say we are allowed to fish. But if they just say that they have committed that they won't stop us, they won't interfere with our fishing, maybe that's a little acceptable because it could be interpreted in a way that they recognize that we really should be fishing in our own waters and they have no right to stop us.)