Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25) — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said it is unconstitutional for the Philippine government to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
“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 in a statement Tuesday evening.
The SC magistrate cites Article X, Section II of the Constitution: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Carpio adds the charter defines “national territory” to include submarine areas over which the country has “sovereignty or jurisdiction.” He added a 2016 arbitral ruling gave the Philippines jurisdiction over the Recto Bank.
“The arbitral tribunal at the Hague has ruled with finality the Philippine(s) has “jurisdiction” over its Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank,” he said.
The justice’s statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said Chinese fishing in Recto Bank, which is within the EEZ, cannot be prevented. The fishermen who were sunk by a Chinese vessel near the sea feature had called on Duterte to make the areea exclusive to Filipinos.