Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Francis Tolentino on Thursday backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that the Philippines was granting China permission to fish in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Sotto said Filipinos should also be allowed to fish in parts of the South China Sea controlled by the Chinese.
“I don’t think there is any problem as long as we are also allowed to fish in the South China Sea,” Sotto told GMA News Online.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III also backed the President’s statement.
“The general rule is the EEX is for the benefit and use of the coastal state hence other states cannot use/exploit resources in the EEZ of another state without its permission and consent,” Pimentel said in a separate text message.
Pimentel is the president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. Duterte is the party chairman.
Tolentino, another partymate of the President, said the act of allowing China to fish in the country’s EEZ affirms the Philippines’ ownership over the area as enshrined in Article XII Sec. 2 of the Constitution, as well as sovereign rights provided for under Article 56 of the UNCLOS.
“The act of giving China fishing rights is an act of ownership, an act of dominion over the West Philippine Sea. Nemo dat quod non habet, we cannot give what we do not have. The President, as the chief architect of our foreign policy, could not have given fishing rights without asserting ownership over our EEZ,” he said in a text message.
Duterte, in an interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s television program, said the Philippines retained its right to exploit resources in the exclusive economic zone.
“So ako ngayon, sabi nila ‘Bakit mo pinayagan ang China?’ Sabi ko, ‘As far as I’m concerned, I’m the owner, and I’m just giving the fishing rights.’ Galit sila kung bakit ko raw pinapaisda ‘yung ano,” Duterte said. —NB/RSJ, GMA News