President Rodrigo Duterte's statement allowing China to fish in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is "alarming," according to a political analyst.
Dr. Jean Encinas-Franco, an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science in University of the Philippines-Diliman said allowing Chinese fishermen in the Philippines' EEZ is unsettling, especially for ordinary Filipinos.
"Hindi maganda yung [statement] ano. Hindi maganda na sinasabi ni Presidente na ganon, madaming hindi matutuwa sa ganong mga statement. Lalo lang napapatunayan ng mga tao, na nakakarinig ng ganung statement, na sunod-sunuran tayo. Na pinapamigay na [yung West Philippine Sea]," Franco told DZMM.
Duterte said Tuesday Chinese fishermen would not be prevented from fishing in Philippine waters since Manila and Beijing are "friends."
The statement comes after a Chinese vessel allegedly sunk a Filipino boat and left 22 fishermen at sea near Reed Bank, located within Manila's 200-nautical-mile EEZ.
Franco said the statement showed the president is only considering two options - a soft stance on China or a military conflict with the superpower over the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The professor stressed there are multiple options aside from having a military confrontation with China.
"Kailangan na ang Chief Executive humahanap ng lahat ng paraan na magkaroon na mas matiwasay na kahihinatnan at hindi giyera," Franco said.
"Bakit hindi gawin na hindi China lang ang kausap natin [kung hindi pati] mga iba pang mga bansa na kakampi natin para magkaroon tayo ng lakas ng pwersa? Kasi hindi rin maganda na giyera kagad yung magiging usapan," she added.
Even if the Philippines and China are "friends" and have amiable relations with each other, there are still boundaries that must be respected, especially territorial matters, according to the professor.
"Kahit na friends, hindi pwede yung hindi mag-respetuhan [ng teritoryo," Franco added.