Gov’t warned vs downplaying Chinese incursions in South China Sea


MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio yesterday warned the government against downplaying the reported presence of Chinese fishermen in disputed territories in the South China Sea that are within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

“What we should do is we should not waive our rights under the ruling,” Carpio said, referring to the ruling issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

“The ruling said Mischief (Panganiban) Reef is part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, so we should stick to that. We should not say they can fish there because the moment we say that they can fish there, then we are waiving our exclusive sovereign rights over that area,” he added.

Carpio said the statements coming from Malacañang officials might be seen as a waiver of the country’s exclusive rights in the area.

“We must be careful in saying that they can fish there because it’s our exclusive economic zone. Only the Filipinos can fish in the exclusive economic zone,” he said. “That is a waiver of our exclusive sovereign rights.”

Carpio made the warning in response to statements by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo downplaying the presence of Chinese fishermen and militia in some of the country’s maritime claims.

Recently released satellite photos by Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) showed huge presence of Chinese fishing boats in the vicinity of Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban Reef.