Filipino fishers urge UN to act on Chinese incursions in West PH Sea

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2021 12:38 PM | Updated as of May 02 2021 02:13 PM

Filipino fishers urge UN to act on Chinese incursions in West PH Sea 1
A Chinese Coast Guard patrol ship is seen at South China Sea, in a handout photo distributed by the Philippine Coast guard April 15 and taken according to the source either on April 13 or 14, 2021. Handout, Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA (UPDATE) - A fishermen's group said Sunday it has filed 3 petitions urging the United Nations to act on Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

The petitions filed Friday called on the UN to declare the China Coast Guard Law null and void, seek demilitarization of the South China Sea, and investigate the effect of Chinese incursion to Filipino fishers' livelihood domestic food security, said Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA).

“Our petitions complement the very principles of the arbitral ruling against China. These include the immediate pullout of Chinese personnel in our territorial waters, respect the rights of our fishers, and demilitarize our traditional fishing grounds,” PAMALAKAYA national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

“Our appeal is in the framework of upholding the basic rights to food and livelihood of our fisherfolk, who are the direct victims, and for the peaceful, diplomatic and non-military resolution to the Chinese aggression and plunder."

The group said it filed the petitions due to "lack of concrete and decisive actions" from the Duterte administration.

“The Filipino fishers are tired of Mr. Duterte compromising our sovereignty in the name of foreign loans and now, vaccines,” Hicap said.

Oceana Philippines, in a statement, urged government to protect its fishermen by putting in place mechanisms such as trackers of Filipino fishing vessels.

"Our fisheries laws are clear on requiring tracking device for commercial fishing vessels, but if we continue to ignore its importance in deterring illegal fishing and harassment by Chinese militia of Filipino fishers plying the Kalayaan Island Group, we will not be able to ensure the safety of our own people,” Oceana vice president Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said.

“We need to be firm in ensuring transparency and accountability in ocean governance if we are to eradicate the continuing plunder on our oceans and assault on our honor and integrity as a nation, apart from pushing us on the edge on the issue of food security. We cannot just watch the destruction of our coral and other important marine habitat and vibrant ecosystem in our waters."

Fausto Alpay, a 57-year-old fisherman in Subic, Zambales, called on government to launch a hotline response system for Filipino fishers.

He also told Oceana he would like to have the vessel monitoring system installed.

"Nais naming magpakabit nito. Kung sakaling may VMS, sana naman po pag may distress (call ay) maka-responde agad ang government agencies bilang tulong,” he said.

(We want this installed. If there was a VMS, we can make distress calls and government agencies can respond immediately.)

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the Philippines holds a "debt of gratitude" for Chinese aid, but its territorial waters "cannot be bargained."

Manila has filed several protests following the illegal presence of Chinese ships in the country's exclusive economic zone. It has vowed to continue to do so until Beijing's vessels have left the area.

A UN-backed arbitration court had in 2016 ruled that China's sweeping claims over almost the entire sea have no legal basis, but Beijing continues to shun the ruling, instead ramping up militarization and island-building activities.

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