Chinese can fish in PH exclusive economic zone, Panelo says

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2019 10:55 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2019 11:11 PM

CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/file

Carpio: Allowing China to fish in PH EEZ is violation of Constitution

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Chinese can fish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said Tuesday.

This, after Duterte said Manila and Beijing are "friends" when asked if the Philippines should prevent China from fishing in its EEZ.

Kumbaga parang ito-tolerate mo lang. It’s not necessarily grant," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters.

"Kasi friends nga daw eh. Kung friend, ‘di magbibigayan kayo."

Panelo, however, said he will ask the President if allowing Chinese fishermen in Manila's EEZ is a policy statement.

The statement comes after a Chinese ship rammed into a Filipino boat and left 22 fishermen at sea near Reed Bank, located within Manila's 200-nautical-mile EEZ.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, however, said allowing China to fish in the Philippines' EEZ is a violation of the Constitution.

Carpio cited the Constitution mandate which reads: "The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

"This means that the Philippine Government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. This also means that the 'use and enjoyment' of the fish in our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipinos," he said.

"The Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to exploit all the fish, oil, gas and other mineral resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone. This sovereign right belongs to the Filipino people, and no government official can waive this sovereign right of the Filipino people without their consent."

Carpio said the President, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, has the constitutional duty to order the military to protect the nation’s marine wealth.

He also cited the arbitral ruling that decided with finality Manila's jurisdiction over its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing, however, refuses to recognize the ruling that invalidated its economic claim to around 90 percent of the resource-rich South China Sea.Relations between the two nations have improved considerably under Duterte, who set aside the 2016 landmark legal victory for enhanced ties.