Duterte-Xi verbal agreement on fishing 'not policy,' says Locsin


Posted at Jul 03 2019 08:53 AM | Updated as of Jul 03 2019 11:26 AM

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MANILA -- A supposed verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping on fishing in disputed waters is "not policy" and cannot be enforced, Manila's top envoy said Wednesday.

Duterte "may have been led by his legal experts" that while the Philippines can set a cap or "allowable fishing" within its exclusive economic zone, other countries can participate if there is an excess, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.

Locsin also blasted the President's critics for raising the verbal agreement against him.

"The verbal agreement cannot be enforced on us, it's verbal," Locsin told ANC's Headstart. "You need a document to prove an agreement. That's the way it is."

"I have said worse things, but the question is: is it policy? It's not policy," he said.

Referring to the President, Locsin said: "He may have been led to believe we had a surplus and he may have said sure, that's fine."

The verbal agreement was not being implemented, Locsin said, adding, "Unlike the critics of the President, I don't dwell in the land of fantasy. I dwell in the land of facts."

Asked if the Philippines was allowing China to fish within its EEZ, Locsin said: "We are not."

A surplus or excess to "allowable" fishing within the EEZ will be determined by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, he said.

Locsin said he summoned Beijing's charges d'affaires in Manila immediately after news broke that a Filipino ship sank near Reed Bank (Recto Bank) after it was hit by a Chinese vessel.

"People who take outrage over the fact we called it an incident, it was an incident. What do you want to call it, an act of aggression? That's really retarded if you say that... I was the only one in this god-damned country who understood what it was. It was an allision," he said.