MANILA -- Malacañang on Tuesday denied that Beijing would deplete resources in disputed waters if the Philippine government continues to allow them to venture into the area under a verbal deal between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier warned that the agreement is "lopsided" because China's boats can easily harvest all the fish in the South China Sea. The Philippine Constitution also reserves the exploitation of marine resources within the exclusive economic zone or EEZ to Filipinos, he said.
"Paano niya nalamang mauubusan tayo ng isda doon? Ba't, iyun bang isda hindi na nagre-reproduce 'pag kinuha mo? Ang lawak ng dagat. Ewan ko ba kung saan basis n'ya nun," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
(How did he know that we will lose all the fish there? Why, do the fish stop reproducing if you get them. The sea is vast. I don't where his basis is.)
Malacañang, he added, has yet to receive any complaints of Chinese fishermen venturing into Recto (Reed) Bank or driving Filipinos away from the rich fishing grounds.
Last month, 22 Filipino fishermen were left adrift for hours near Recto Bank after their boat was hit and sunk by a suspected Chinese trawler near Recto Bank, which is inside of the Philippine EEZ.
Carpio, a long-time advocate of the Philippines' maritime rights, said that while international agreements allow foreign nations to fish inside another state's EEZ in case of a "surplus," such an excess does not exist in the Philippines.
"We are 105 million people. There is not enough fish for us in the West Philippine Sea. Why will we allow the Chinese to fish when they can scoop all the fish and they don't allow us to fish in their own waters? Of course there's no fish there anymore," he told ANC.
The Senate, he said, should "ratify or repudiate" the deal between Duterte and Xi as this requires a treaty or international agreement.