PH solons: Ignore China's new fishing law
MANILA, Philippines – The Aquino administration should ignore the new fisheries law issued by the Hainan Provincial People’s Congress, said members of Congress on Saturday, January 11. (READ: PH slams China law on fishing boats)
Recognizing the fisheries law that requires foreigners to seek China's permission to fish in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is tantamount to the Philippines giving up its claim on the disputed waters, insisted Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
"A big 'no.' Recognizing this law would be an implicit admission that we are recognizing the sovereign rights of China over these disputed waters and therefore would be inconsistent with our claim of ownership," he said.
Marikina City Representative Romero Quimbo and Parañaque City Representative Gus Tambunting agreed with Barzaga.
"We should completely ignore it. To recognize it will render all our ongoing legal contests moot and academic. We will effectively be giving up our sovereign rights over our territories. We cannot allow that," said Quimbo.
"We are not bound by it and it is definitely contrary to international law," Tambunting said.
The Palace gave assurances that it would not recognize the law but that it would tread carefully when bringing up the law with China.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Saturday said, "We want to be careful about this and we want to make sure that we are acting accordingly on the correct information."
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has asked China to "immediately clarify" the controversial regulation saying it was "gravely concerned" with the possible impacts of the measure.
“This development escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea, and threatens the peace and stability of the region,” it added.
But China insists the law has been around for some time now.
"If someone insists on calling technical revisions to a local fishing regulation that has already been implemented for years a matter of regional tension, a threat to regional stability, then all I can say is, this is either a lack of basic common sense or some ulterior motive," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a regular press briefing.
Valte said on Saturday that the Philippine ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio is set to speak to her counterpart to clarify "what these supposedly old regulations are."
"We will act accordingly after that clarification or, at least, after that conversation has taken place," added Valte.
She also said the Palace would protect at all times local fishermen venturing into high seas covered by international laws.
China uses the 9-dash line, a demarcation mark, to claim virtually the entire South China Sea.
The 9-dash line overlaps with the Philippines' 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Philippines has the sovereign right to explore and exploit, and conserve and manage natural resources, among others, within its EEZ. (READ: PH lawyer on China: Being 'int'l outlaw' has its price)
Other Southeast Asian nations are claiming parts of the West Philippine Sea such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei. – Rappler.com