Posts Tagged ‘Filipino fishermen’

Duterte goes soft on Chinese ‘harassment’ of Filipino fishermen

April 28, 2017
China’s construction activities on Subi Reef is seen from Philippine-controled Pagasa Island in the South China Sea off Palawan province on April 21, 2017. Since 2013, China has launched an ambitious, aggressive island-building project in the disputed waterway that serves as a key global trade route. AP
.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the expected expression of concern over Chinese actions against Filipino fishermen and called a recent incident in the disputed South China Sea a “misunderstanding.”

After Philippine authorities ordered an inquiry, Duterte confirmed on Thursday reports that the Chinese Coast Guard blocked and harassed Philippine-flagged vessel Princess Johann near the Union Banks in the Philippine-claimed Spratlys region. Even as no casualties were noted, the Filipino fishermen accused Chinese officers of firing at them.

“There is a misunderstanding there. We have talked about it. And sabi ko I hope it will not happen again,” Duterte said, a few days ahead of the Manila-hosted Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit.

Prodded by reporters to explain what was discussed among his officials about the incident, Duterte said it was the Filipino fishermen who were taking the risk despite Chinese presence in the area.

 

“Parang papasok talaga sila do’n farther,  (They were going further in) testing the waters and tempting the gods… Sinabi na nga nila d’yan na muna e (The Chinese even warned them to stay where they were),” Duterte said.

A Chinese speedboat supposedly approached the Filipino boat after it dropped anchor about 3.7 kilometers off the Chinese side of the atoll, according to reports.

“The crew hid and eventually cut their anchor line and fled the area,” the statement added.

Duterte, who has taken a friendly stance toward China and Russia instead of warming up to the country’s traditional ally, the United States, was resigned about what occurred in Philippine-claimed waters.

“Tanggapin na lang natin ‘yan (Let’s just accept that),” Duterte said. “You know guys, you must realize by now para mahinto na ‘yang dream ninyo. We cannot on our own enforce the arbitral judgment.”

In July, a few days after Duterte was installed president, the Philippines won in its maritime entitlements overlapping China’s in a United Nations-backed arbitration ruling. Beijing refused to recognize the landmark verdict.

The case was among the legacies of Duterte’s predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, but the newly elected leader has keen on setting aside the ruling in building closer ties with China.

ALSO READ: For Duterte, pressuring China with arbitral award is ‘all dreams’

Duterte refused to raise the ruling in the ASEAN Summit the Philippines is hosting and in the bilateral negotiations with Beijing in May, promising to use the legal leverage at a later time. — with a report from Agence France Presse

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/28/1694800/duterte-goes-soft-chinese-harassment-filipino-fishermen

Related:

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

See also:

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Push for South China Sea code stirs Asean suspicions about Beijing’s endgame — Many remain unconvinced on the bypassing of international law — Voice suspicions of Beijing’s sincerity

April 27, 2017

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, outdoor and nature

China-occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) – China’s support for finalising a code of conduct in the hotly contested South China Sea is generating some hope in South-east Asia of settling disputes, but those working out the terms remain unconvinced of Beijing’s sincerity.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the strategic waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

But given the continued building and arming of its artificial islands in the South China Sea, Beijing’s recently expressed desire to work with Asean to complete a framework this year has been met with scepticism and suspicion.

“Some of us in Asean believe this is just another ploy by China to buy time,” said one senior diplomat familiar with the talks. “China is expectedly stalling until it has completely attained its strategic objectives… What need is there for the green grass when the horse is dead?”

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which commits to following the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, and”refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features”.

But the DOC was not stuck to, especially by China, which has built seven islands in the Spratly archipelago. It is now capable of deploying combat planes on three reclaimed reefs, where radars and surface-to-air missile systems have also been installed, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative think tank.

Beijing insists its activities are for defence purposes, in areas it considers its waters. Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines, however, all claim some or all of the resource-rich waterway and its myriad of shoals, reefs and islands.

BINDING CONTRACT

The Asean diplomat said the two rounds of talks so far this year gave the impression of progress, but details worked out so far were “essentially the same” as the DOC.

Another diplomat from the 10-member bloc said the framework would be “re-stating most of the major points” of the DOC, but the hard part was getting China to agree to a legally binding contract.

“Here lies the big challenge. You need to understand this is not just a simple matter of conforming to a set of words,” the diplomat said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not directly answer a question on whether China would support an enforceable code of conduct, but said China hoped for the framework and code to be completed this year.

Finalising the framework would be a feather in the cap for the Philippines, which chairs Asean this year. Manila has reversed its stance on the South China Sea, from advocating a unified front and challenging Beijing’s unilateralism, to putting disputes aside to create warm ties.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opted not to press China to abide by an international arbitration decision last year that ruled in Manila’s favour and invalidated Beijing’s sweeping South China Sea claims.

There will be no mention of the Hague ruling in an Asean leaders’ statement at a summit in Manila on Saturday, nor will there be any reference to concerns about island-building or militarization that appeared in last year’s text, according to excerpts of a draft seen by Reuters.

A diplomat at the Asean secretariat said there was urgency from all parties to get the framework done this year, but Asean was taking “a leap of faith” with China and there were concerns about what the end result might be.

Richard Heydarian, an expert on politics and international affairs at Manila’s De La Salle University, said China’s strategy was to project an image of being a responsible stakeholder rather than an aggressor, and avoid being bound to rules that could weaken its geopolitical position should the United States assert itself in the South China Sea.

“China wants to come up with a symbolic framework that says to America ‘Hey, back off, we’re dealing with Asean on a very diplomatic level’, but nothing significant enough to operationally restrict their ability to respond if the Trump administration takes a tougher position,” he said.

Related:

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

Philippines and the South China Sea: “We must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

April 26, 2017
Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are seen 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea Friday, April 21, 2017. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to Thitu Island Friday to assert the country’s claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. AP/Bullit Marquez
.

MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the Philippines in filing an arbitration case against China, expressed disappointment over the reported draft of a communique that will be issued at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila.

A draft of the “chairman’s statement” did not mention the arbitration decision issued by a United Nations-backed tribunal last year that invalidates China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“We shared the serious concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments and escalation of activities in the area which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region,” the draft statement said.

READ: ASEAN leaders likely to go soft on sea feud in Manila summit

Asked to comment on the draft statement’s treatment of the South China Sea developments, Del Rosario said that there is a minimum expectation of positive leadership to be attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s chairmanship of the 10-nation regional bloc.

“The draft of the Chairman’s Statement is deeply disappointing and, if not revisited, would manifest an absence of the desired leadership,” Del Rosario said in a statement released Wednesday.

Del Rosario has been urging the government to assert effective leadership as this year’s ASEAN chair by bringing up the arbitral tribunal ruling during the discussion of the maritime dispute.

In a forum earlier this week, Del Rosario said that the country must speak out and work with its Southeast Asian neighbors to stand in protest.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come—we must create that time ourselves lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

The former Secretary of Foreign Affairs added that the arbitral award should be an integral part of the Code of Conduct being finalized.

“Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless,” Del Rosario said in a forum last Tuesday.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694140/del-rosario-laments-draft-asean-statement-sea-row

RELATED: ASEAN countries urged to draft sea code, pressure China

Related:

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

 

South China Sea: Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Suggests ASEAN Member States Make Hague International Court Ruling Part of Code of Conduct

April 25, 2017
The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected. File

MANILA, Philippines –  Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make the South China Sea (SCS) ruling an “integral” part of the Code of Conduct framework and the eventual finished document.

The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected.

While most states strive for a peaceful, rules-based regional order in Southeast Asia, Del Rosario said China’s unilateralism has put this common vision at grave risk.

He urged ASEAN to be united in countering this challenge to its regional centrality and solidarity, noting that promoting the rule of law and strengthening multilateralism in support of the law must be key parts of ASEAN’s response.

“ASEAN and the international community as a whole should utilize the principles in the arbitral ruling to move diplomatic engagement forward,” Del Rosario said during the forum titled “The South China Sea: The Philippines, ASEAN, and their International Partners.”

The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, has decided to set aside the ruling in settling the maritime dispute with China.

“On shelving the ruling, what would happen if we should pass the point of no return?” Del Rosario asked.

The Philippines took a risk when the Philippine government went to arbitration at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013 with Del Rosario as foreign affairs secretary.

The ruling of the international arbitral tribunal not only vindicated the Philippines, but also upheld the rule of law over the waters and global commons of the SCS, making the ruling an integral part of the universal body of international law.

Manila made a strong contribution to the region, as the ruling benefited not only the claimants but also the whole world.

“My hope is that our ASEAN neighbors share the pride of what a member state like ours can accomplish, and see in the ruling an opportunity for all of the Southeast Asian region. Ultimately, advocating a rules-based regime is deeply embedded in who we are and what we must do,” Del Rosario said.

As this year’s chair of the ASEAN, the Philippines, he emphasized, has a unique and important opportunity to dwell on how it can work with its neighbors to ensure that a rules-based order succeeds.

Del Rosario also pointed out that the purpose of the cooperation should go beyond maintaining friendly ties, as the Philippines must also cooperate to ensure a neighborhood where countries follow the rules and uphold their commitments.

In 2002, ASEAN and China committed to a non-binding agreement over how claimants should all behave in the SCS. In the spirit of preventing and reducing tensions, the countries committed to self-restraint from activities that would complicate or escalate disputes.

“I am sorry to say that in the years that followed, one country did not exercise the necessary restraint expected of it,” Del Rosario said.

In 2017, as in 2012, he said that the greatest immediate source of regional uncertainty has been China’s unlawful efforts to expand its footprint throughout the SCS.

“Our region cannot promote the rule of law while ignoring the law as it stands,” Del Rosario said. “Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

It should be unthinkable for any diplomatic mechanism – whether bilateral or multilateral – to be used as a channel to reward unilateral activity or preserve unlawful gains, according to Del Rosario.

He urged the Philippines to speak out and work with its neighbors and friends to stand united in protest of island-building and militarization, Filipino fishermen being barred from entering Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, irreparable destruction of marine commons and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s challenged flyover in the SCS.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come – we must create that time ourselves, lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694039/asean-urged-make-scs-ruling-part-sea-code

Related:

.

 (Philippine Star)

 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

l

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

South China Sea: Chinese warship harassed fishers from the Philippines, fired shots, lawmaker says — Philippine Government Not Being Truthful?

April 24, 2017

Magdalo Party-List Representative Gary C. AlejanoINQUIRER PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

It was China’s Navy and not its Coast Guard that fired shots to drive away Filipino fishermen from Union Banks in the heavily disputed Spratly archipelago on April 9, making the incident more unsettling than previously thought, a lawmaker said on Sunday.

“According to the initial reports, it was the Chinese Coast Guard that was involved in the Union Banks incident. However, in our meeting with the fishermen themselves, we [learned] that it was actually a Chinese Navy ship [that was involved],” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said in a statement.

Alejano, a former Marine officer, expressed concern that China’s aggressive action in the Spratlys was carried out by a “gray ship.”

The term “gray ship” refers to the navy of any country. “White ship” refers to the coast guard.

Different missions

Alejano emphasized the difference between the missions of the navy and coast guard.

The coast guard is tasked with enforcing maritime law and to conduct search and rescue, while the navy is tasked with fighting for the country at sea during war, he said.

Alejano warned: “The aggressive act of the Chinese Navy could trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty and there is a danger that the situation may escalate.”

Under the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States, an attack on a Philippine vessel in Philippine waters is an attack on the United States.

The United States has repeatedly said its commitment to defend the Philippines is “ironclad.”

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) called West Philippine Sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, where $5 trillion in global trade passes every year and where islets, reefs and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.

Union Banks is a large drowned atoll located 230 km west of Palawan, well within the Philippines’ EEZ.

According to a television report last week, the incident happened on April 9 near Gavin Reef (international name: Gaven Reef), one of the reefs in Union Banks claimed by the Philippines but occupied and had been built on by China.

Alejano traveled to Mariveles in Bataan province on Saturday to look for the fishermen and their boat, the Princess Johanna. He found them in Sisiman village, Mariveles, and they told him that a big gray ship watched as a gray speedboat came at them firing warning shots.

Alejano showed the fishermen photographs of Chinese Navy ships and the People’s Liberation Army uniform, and they told him both resembled what they had seen at Union Banks.

Orlan Dumat, 28, one of the fishermen, said seven Chinese men in gray uniforms came in a speedboat and turned back his group by firing shots in the air.

Frightened, the fishermen cut the anchor, instead of hauling it in, and ran for it.The speedboat gave chase, firing. The fishermen noticed that shots were fired near their boat’s outriggers.

Dumat said one of the outriggers was hit but no one on the boat was hurt.

“As we sailed away, the Chinese boat continued to tail us,” he said.

How the story got out

The fishermen returned to Mariveles and kept the incident to themselves, but a member of the boat owners’ association in the village told the story to a local journalist.

When their story finally reached the government’s attention, Philippine Coast Guard officers went to Mariveles to investigate, but chided the fishermen for telling their story to the press first before reporting what happened to the authorities.

The Mariveles fishermen’s experience was probably the first incident that appeared to involve the Chinese Navy. All previous incidents in the West Philippine Sea involved the Chinese Coast Guard.

Alejano last week urged the government to file a strong protest against China over the incident.

Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters that the incident was under investigation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was still verifying the incident.

The Princess Johanna left Mariveles on March 25 with a crew of 25 and arrived at Union Banks on April 9.

The fishermen told Alejano that they go to Union Banks every year or whenever fish in their traditional fishing grounds in the Spratlys, among them Rizal Reef (Commodore Reef), were scarce.

They said they noticed concrete structures at Union Banks that were not there last year.

The fishermen were probably referring to the structures on the artificial islands built by China on three reefs in Union Banks, all claimed by the Philippines—Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef), Gavin Reef and McKennan Reef (Hughes Reef).

.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/891373/chinas-navy-harassed-ph-fishers-says-lawmaker#ixzz4f94EA9VB
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Related:

China has expressed alarm over the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año to Pag-Asa Island last Friday, saying it ran counter to an “important consensus” reached between the leaders of the two countries.  Photo: Lu Kang, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. File Photo 
.
.
.

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
.

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

China to probe alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen

April 22, 2017

Fishermen said they were driven off by shooting. Chinese Coast Guard said they fired warning shots….

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, nature, outdoor and water

South China Sea (Xinhua – MANILA BULLETIN)

 (philstar.com) |

BEIJING (Philippines News Agency) – China will also look into reports that Filipino fishermen have been driven away allegedly by the Chinese Coast Guard from Union Bank in the South China Sea, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Friday.

“I honestly do not know anything about what you said. You yourself mentioned that the vessels are unidentified, and all sides are in the process of verifying the situation. China also needs to check on that,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said during a press conference.

 Image may contain: 1 person
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China was alarmed, angered by Philippine government, military visit to Pag-asa Island in the South China Sea. File photo. Peace and Freedom screengrab

The Philippines’ foreign affairs and national defense departments are still confirming media reports on the harassment of the Filipino fishermen.

Lu said China will continue to work with the Philippine side to “properly” resolve the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea maritime and territorial dispute under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Our position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. We would go on working with the Philippine side to properly deal with relevant maritime issues and create favorable conditions for the sound and steady development of bilateral relations,” he said.

He reiterated that the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China have turned around and started to improve quickly “with all-around cooperation moving forward steadily”.

Five months after his election, Duterte visited China in October last year at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Duterte is scheduled to return to Beijing next month to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

“Overall, both sides are able to build upon the consensus of the two leaders and manage maritime issues through negotiations and coordination,” Lu said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692803/china-probe-alleged-harassment-filipino-fishermen

Related:

 (Contains links to related articles)

Philippines: Chinese Coast Guard stationed in Scarborough to administer fishing activities (Chinese strategy is “Talk and Take”)

April 11, 2017

 0

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Renato Etac

via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that the country’s Coast Guard vessels are stationed in waters near Scarborough Shoal to administer fishing activities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Philippines and China made arrangements for fishing activities in the area.

Image may contain: 1 person

 Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry — more reliable than Malacañang

“Last year, based on the friendliness between China and the Philippines, China made proper arrangement for fishing activities by Philippine fishermen in the relevant part of waters near Huangyan Dao,” Hua said in a press briefing Monday.

Reuters earlier reported that a small Philippine fishing crew is being allowed to fish in the area by the Chinese Coast Guard.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels are also present in the area to preserve peace, tranquility and order, the spokesperson said.

Asked about the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he would not place weapons on Philippines-controlled islets in the South China Sea, Hua stressed that China’s position on the issue has been clear and consistent.

Image may contain: 7 people, people standing

President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua. Photo by EPA

“We are firm in upholding our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” Hua said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated that Beijing is committed to settling disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultations with countries directly involved, including the Philippines.

China is also committed to working with ASEAN countries to preserve peace and stability in the region, Hua said.

“China has maintained close and effective communication with the Philippines on relevant issues. We hope that the Philippines can work with us to continue to properly handle differences and create favorable atmosphere for the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations,” the spokesperson said.

Duterte earlier ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to occupy the country’s controlled islets and land features in the South China Sea.

The president, however, clarified that there are no new weapons being eyed for the islets as the Philippine military seeks to exercise greater control.

“We are just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours and I have ordered the AFP to build structures there to signify, atin ito,” Duterte said before departing for Saudi Arabia.

RELATED: AFP: Philippines to upgrade island facilities, not launch land grab

The president made the order for the military to occupy South China Sea following reports that China is nearly finished with its construction of military facilities on three islands in the Spratly Group.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170411-lebanon-army-order-evicts-3000-syria-refugees-camps

Related:

Image may contain: 3 people, outdoor

A Vietnamese fishing boat was reportedly ambushed and looted by a China Coast Guard vessel off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. Here the fisher make a reort to Vietnamese police, March 2016.

See article:

****************************************

  (November 24, 2015)

 (December 28, 2015)

 (Also called “Talk and Take”)

Chinese J-11 Fighters Deployed To Woody Island In South China Sea

China posted pictures of an armed J-11 Flanker fighter

.

 (Philippine Star)

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

 

Related:

.
.

 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

FILE – In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The Philippines’ top diplomat says China remains opposed to a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea even as negotiations have progressed on other elements of such a code. Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday, April 4, 2017, talks between China and Southeast Asian countries on the code’s framework have made headway but have not yet touched on whether the code will be legally-binding – as the Philippines and its neighbors want. Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

South China Sea: One of the World’s Biggest Fisheries Is on the Verge of Collapse

March 26, 2017

South China Sea’s most important resource – its fish – is disappearing

Major disputes in the South China Sea are putting critical habitat—and the food supply of millions—at risk.

 Image may contain: outdoor

Dock workers use cranes to off-load frozen tuna from a Chinese-owned cargo vessel at the General Santos Fish Port, in the Philippines. Tuna stocks in the South China Sea have plummeted in recent years because of overfishing. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

.
By Rachael Bale
National Geographic
PUBLISHED AUGUST 29, 2016

.
PUERTO PRINCESA, PHILIPPINES — Years ago Christopher Tubo caught a 660-pound blue marlin in the South China Sea. The fishing was good there, he says. Tuna fishermen would come home from a trip with dozens of the high-value fish as well as a good haul of other species.

“Here there’s none of that,” he says, looking toward the Sulu Sea, the Philippine sea where he’s been fishing for the past four years. His two boats, traditional Filipino outriggers called bancas, float in the shallow water nearby, new coats of white paint drying in the sun.

Tubo is sitting on a wooden bench in front of his home, which perches on stilts above the bay. One of his four kids wraps an arm around his leg. Worn T-shirts and shorts flutter on clotheslines behind them.


A worker carries a line-caught yellowfin tuna at the General Santos Fish Port, which is known as the “tuna capital of the Philippines.” The South China Sea, through which tuna migrate, produces more fish than almost anywhere else, but it has been severely overfished and is nearing collapse. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
.
Glancing over at his wife, Leah, and the other children, he says, “It’s just chance, whether or not we can feed our families now.”

Tubo lives in Puerto Princesa, a city of 255,000 on Palawan, a long finger of an island that faces the Sulu Sea and the Philippine archipelago to the east and the contested South China Sea to the west. He’s one of the nearly 320,000 fishermen in the Philippines who have traditionally made their livelihoods from the South China Sea—and one of a growing number who are now fishing in other waters because of increasing Chinese interference. Beginning around 2012, China adopted a more assertive posture in the sea’s long-running territorial dispute, building military installations on contested islands and increasingly using its coast guard to intimidate fishermen from other countries.

It was after a Chinese coast guard vessel attacked a friend’s fishing boat with water cannons that Christopher Tubo stopped fishing the South China Sea.

Image may contain: 4 people
Filipino fishermen aboard the Ninay haul in sardines and scad in national waters near the South China Sea. The territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea have increased competition for dwindling fish stocks of all species.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
.
“One minute you’ll see an airplane, the next thing there’s a naval boat,” he says, describing how the Chinese attempt to keep fishermen from other countries out of the disputed area. “If we kept going over there, maybe we won’t be able to go home to our families.”

“As they see it, it’s theirs now, and Filipinos are forbidden,” says Henry Tesorio, an elected councilor for a fishing village in Puerto Princesa.

Vietnamese fishermen could say the same thing. Some 200 Vietnamese from the island of Ly Son, 15 miles (24 kilometers) off the mainland, reported being attacked by Chinese boats in 2015, according to local Vietnamese government officials.


The lights on the Melissa attract fish toward the boat and up to the surface. A storm later forced the boat to return to Quezon, a fishing village on the island of Palawan, in the Philippines. Fishermen from the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and elsewhere all fish the South China Sea.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

.
Tubo’s decision not to fish in the South China Sea speaks to the rising tensions in the region, which are causing fierce competition for natural resources. Encompassing 1.4 million square miles (3.7 million square kilometers), the South China Sea is of critical economic, military, and environmental importance: $5.3 trillion in international trade plies its waters annually; in terms of biodiversity, it is thought of as the marine equivalent of the Amazon rain forest; and its fish provide food and jobs for millions in the 10 countries and territories that surround it.

Of those, seven—China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia—have competing claims to the sea’s waters and resources. So it’s understandable why all eyes have been focused on the political and military wrangling. If war broke out over these claims, it would pit two superpowers, China and the United States—a longtime Philippine ally and guarantor of freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean—against each other.

South China Sea map. Credit Center for Strategic and International Studies

.
But another less publicized, also potentially disastrous, threat looms in the South China Sea: overfishing. This is one of the world’s most important fisheries, employing more than 3.7 million people and bringing in billions of dollars every year. But after decades of free-for-all fishing, dwindling stocks now threaten both the food security and economic growth of the rapidly developing nations that draw on them.

China argues that it has a right to almost the entire South China Sea because it says it has historically exercised jurisdiction in that area, which China delineates on maps with a U-shaped “nine-dash” line (see map). Every other disputant in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, bases its maritime claims on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international agreement that defines maritime zones.

Opposing Beijing’s expansionist claims, in 2013 the Philippines brought a case against China before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration—a forum for settling international disputes—in The Hague, Netherlands. China refused to participate. On July 12, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines on almost all its claims, declaring that China forfeited the possibility of any historically based rights when it ratified the UN convention in 1996. China has vowed to ignore the ruling.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
Crew members take shelter from a storm aboard the Ninay. Filipino fishermen have reported increasing interference from Chinese coast guard vessels in the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea for itself.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
.
Competition for fish has exacerbated the dispute, and the dispute has intensified competition among fishermen, further depleting fish. Some parts of the South China Sea have less than a tenth of the stocks they had five decades ago. And high-value fish such as tuna and grouper are becoming scarcer.

“What we’re looking at is potentially one of the world’s worst fisheries collapses ever,” says John McManus, a marine biologist at the Rosenstiel School at the University of Miami who studies the region’s reefs.

.“We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of species that will collapse, and they’ll collapse relatively quickly, one after another.”

MONICA SERRANO, NG STAFF
SOURCES: COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS; U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION;
OCEANASIA 2015, REPORTED AND ESTIMATED UNREPORTED CATCHES; RANDALL AND LIM, 2000; CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

Fishermen on the Front Lines

.
As coastal waters are depleted, fishermen have been forced to venture farther offshore and into disputed waters to make a living. China has seized this as an opportunity to bolster its claims by aggressively supporting its fishermen. Beijing has consolidated the coast guard, militarized fishing fleets, and begun offering subsidies for bigger and better boats, water, and fuel. There’s even a special subsidy specifically for fishermen to fish in the contested Spratly Islands, more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) to the south.

“The only reason that smaller [Chinese] fishermen go out to the Spratlys is because they’re paid to do so,” says Gregory Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Center for Strategic Studies. This extra pressure has sped up the depletion of fish stocks, he says.

The Chinese have also been building artificial islands atop reefs in the Spratlys to support military installations there. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” says Zachary Abuza, an expert on Southeast Asian politics and maritime security at the National War College, in Washington, D.C. “China is trying to enforce its sovereignty through the construction of these islands and by denying other countries access to natural resources.”

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and outdoor
A couple sits outside a home built over the water in Quezon, where most people have family members who work as fishermen. Overfishing has put the livelihoods of many Filipinos at risk.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

.
Eugenio Bito-onon, Jr.—until recently the mayor of the Kalayaan municipality, which includes islands in the Spratlys—is an outspoken advocate for the Philippines’ claims. Bito-onon and I met in the island’s cramped satellite office in Puerto Princesa, where he had a gigantic map of the South China Sea marked up with his own handwritten labels and colored dots showing which countries claim which features.

He pulls up Google Earth on his laptop and finds Thitu, an island in the Spratlys known locally as Pag-asa, where about 200 Filipinos, including a small number of troops, live part-time, their presence demonstrating the Philippines’ claim to the island. Rice, clothing, soap, and other necessities must be brought in by boat or airlift, and two government-owned generators are the only source of electricity. Bito-onon points out just how close Chinese-claimed Subi Reef is to Thitu. So close, he says, that on a clear day residents can see it on the horizon.

Even closer, though, are Chinese fishing boats, which he says have fished the reefs empty. “For the past three years, [the Chinese] never leave,” Bito-onon says from behind his laptop, now displaying satellite imagery of reefs around Thitu. “Chinese fishing boats come and go, replacing each other,” he says, but there are never not boats within sight of the island.

Image may contain: 1 person, ocean, sky, outdoor and water
A Filipino fisherman wades from boat to shore with part of the crew’s catch. Fishermen who go to the South China Sea report that their catches have gotten smaller in recent years. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

Image may contain: 2 people

The Navotas Fish Port in Manila is the largest in the Philippines. The markets at the port trade in seafood from freshwater farms, national waters, and international waters, including the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
Gilbert Elefane, the Filipino captain of a tuna boat based in the municipality of Quezon, on Palawan, says he now sees up to a hundred boats, many Chinese, on a single two-week fishing trip in the South China Sea. Just a few years ago, he says he’d have seen no more than 30.

Beijing has provided military training and sophisticated GPS and communications technology to its fishermen so they can call in the coast guard if they have a run-in with a foreign law enforcement vessel or alert the coast guard of the presence of fishermen from other countries.

In the face of China’s island building, Vietnam has done some small-scale land reclamation of its own in an attempt to bolster its capacity in the Spratlys. Its efforts, however, have been less destructive than China’s.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
A dock worker uses a mallet to dislodge frozen tuna aboard a Chinese cargo vessel docked at the city of General Santos in the Philippines. The cargo vessel spends up to two months at sea with a fleet of a dozen tuna boats working to fill its freezer. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

As long as the conflict in the South China Sea continues, it will be nearly impossible to regulate fishing.

When one country tries to protect its fishing grounds, tensions flare. In March, for instance, Indonesian maritime law enforcement officials arrested eight Chinese on charges of illegal fishing. The fishermen were less than three miles (five kilometers) from Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. The Natunas themselves are not in dispute, but the waters north of them, which are particularly rich in gas, have become a new flashpoint. Under international law they’re Indonesian, but they partially overlap with China’s nine-dash line claims, so China says it has a right to fish there.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
A pregnant woman wades in the dirty water near the Navotas Fish Port. The Philippines’ economy relies heavily on fishing and the seafood trade, as do most of the countries around the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

.
When Indonesia’s vessel began towing the Chinese boat back to port, an armed Chinese coast guard ship appeared and began ramming the Chinese boat to break it free. The Indonesians were forced to let the boat go and retreat.

“It’s unclear whose laws you’re enforcing when you have seven overlapping sets of fisheries laws,” Poling says. “States have a vested interest in purposely violating fishing laws of other states.”

That’s because abiding by another country’s fishing law is tantamount to accepting that that country has jurisdiction over that region, which no country has been willing to do.

In 2012, a Philippine navy warship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, about 138 miles (220 kilometers) from the Philippine coast, on suspicion of illegal fishing and poaching rare corals, giant clams, and sharks. A Chinese coast guard ship interfered to prevent the arrests, forcing a standoff. After 10 weeks both sides agreed to withdraw, but once the Philippines left, China remained, effectively seizing control of the shoal.

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, ocean, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
A fisherman at the General Santos Fish Port carries a yellowfin tuna caught in the South China Sea. Fishermen say the fish they catch now are smaller than before.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

 

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Workers at the Navotas Fish Port unload and sort fish from commercial boats that have returned from the South China Sea, where overfishing has exacerbated the land and sea disputes in the region.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

.
As Filipino fishermen have seen their catches—and the fish themselves—getting smaller, they’ve increasingly been resorting to dangerous, illegal fishing methods. Blast fishing, which Filipinos call “bong bong” fishing, involves setting off homemade bombs underwater to kill dozens of fish at one time. Cyanide fishing, which involves squirting fish in the face with poison to stun them, is used to catch live reef fish to supply high-end live seafood restaurants in Hong Kong and other large Asian cities. Both practices kill coral and other fish, collateral damage that’s pushing the sea ever closer to an overfishing crisis.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and outdoor
Dock workers at the Navotas Fish Port sort through mussels. If the South China Sea fishery were to collapse, it would threaten the food supply of millions. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
.
China’s island building and giant clam poaching have caused most of them documented reef destruction in the South China Sea, an area totaling 62 square miles (163 square kilometers). Island building grinds up corals for use as foundation material, smothers reefs that become the base of islands, and creates sediment plumes that suffocate nearby reefs. Dredging to deepen ports also causes serious damage. And poaching of giant clams entails grinding up corals to loosen the shells from the reef.

“It’s quite possible we’re seeing a serious decline in about half of the reefs,” John McManus, the marine biologist, says. “That’s what I expect will happen, if it hasn’t happened already. It’s just total destruction.”

When a reef is destroyed, the ecosystem unravels. Reef fish lose their habitat, and pelagic fish such as tuna lose an important source of food. Furthermore, reefs in the South China Sea are connected. Fish larvae from one reef ride the current across the sea to repopulate another reef. If a reef disappears, so does that source of larvae, increasing the chance that local extirpations of fish species will be permanent.

Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor
Dock workers and fishermen buy food from a street vendor at the Navotas Fish Port, in Manila. Some 320,000 Filipinos fish the South China Sea, and many more work on the docks, as fish packers, and as seafood traders, among other jobs.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

McManus says that many of the damaged reefs will be able to recover in a decade or two—if the island building and destructive giant clam poaching stop. He champions the idea of a “peace park,” a kind of marine protected area where all countries would put a freeze on their claims and halt all activities, like island building, that bolster those claims.

Experts also say cooperative regional management could go a long way toward making the South China Sea fishery sustainable. It would require dramatic cutbacks in the number of fishing boats and restrictions on fishing methods such as the use of huge fishing vessels that use powerful lights at night to attract tuna. All this would in turn mean helping fishermen find other ways to earn a living.

Under a sustainable management plan, tuna and mackerel could recover 17-fold by 2045, Rashid Sumaila and William Cheung at the University of British Columbia predicted in a 2015 report. Reef fish would recover up to 15 percent, and the catch and value of reef fish would also increase. Sharks and groupers, which are also high-value fish, would make a comeback too.

But Poling, of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, questions whether such a plan will happen in time. “What that requires is setting aside the disputes,” he says. “It’s possible—it’s just not likely. In order to have a successful joint management system, the first step is to agree on what area you’re talking about.” With China clinging to its nine-dash line while other countries base their claims on international law, agreement just won’t be possible, he says.

As it now stands, the South China Sea’s most important resource—its fish—is disappearing, and countries are either passively standing by or actively encouraging their fishermen to take more.

No automatic alt text available.
Children fish at dusk in the fishing community of Quezon in the Philippines. Fishermen here ply their trade in national waters and the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
.
Aurora Almendral contributed to this report.

Image may contain: shoes

Coming Tuesday: China’s giant clam poaching is decimating reefs in the South China Sea.

Follow Rachael Bale on Twitter.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to ngwildlife@ngs.org.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/wildlife-south-china-sea-overfishing-threatens-collapse/

Related:

We at Peace and Freedom have catalogued much of the history of recent events and issues around the South China Sea for the past five years. Use these keywords to see more:

These keywords will give you the best results:

Additional topics:

, , , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , ,

Related:

 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

National Geographic:

.

A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jay Directo )

.

A Vietnamese fisherman repairs his vessel after it was rammed by a Chinese patrol ship that it protecting the waters around a disputed oil rig in the South China Sea, May 18, 2014. (PhoBolsaTV.com)

A Vietnamese fisherman repairs his vessel after it was rammed by a Chinese patrol ship that it protecting the waters around a disputed oil rig in the South China Sea, May 18, 2014. (PhoBolsaTV.com)

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Vietnamese fishing boat Captain Tran Van Quang

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

 

Outrage: Vietnamese and Filipino protesters outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea

Outrage: Vietnamese and Filipino protesters outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, the Philippines, to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea

 

 (This    article has links to several  others related to environmental issues in the South China Sea).

A green sea turtle is seen off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

A green sea turtle.(Reuters)

 (Includes Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees)

 (Has links to many related conservation and environmental articles)

 (Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports)

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and outdoor

Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals display placards and chant anti-China slogans as they march outside the Chinese Consulate in Manila’s Makati financial district on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on Friday, May 16, 2014, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. — PHOTO: REUTERS

 

 (August 25, 2016)

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and water

China’s Tian Jing Hao – Cutter suction dredger — Used to destroy South China Sea coral reefs to provide dredge material for new man made- islands — an environmental disaster

 (Contains links to several related articles)

August 17, 2015
ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

 

 

An elderly Vietnamese protester holds a placard during an anti-China protest in front of the Chinese consulate in the financial district of Manila on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on May 16, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. Many Vietnamese remain uneasy with China in the South china sea till this day.  AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and water

The End of an era?  Fishermen work to unload a net full of anchovies during a fishing expedition in the Pacific Ocean. Photo AP

 

 

Philippines: “Stand Up To China,” Some Allies of President Duterte Urge Him To Change Course Before It Is Too Late

March 23, 2017
ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2017 03:25 AM

Image may contain: 1 person, text

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA — A senator and ally of President Rodrigo Duterte is asking him to rethink his “hands-off” approach in dealing with the South China Sea.

Duterte has drawn criticism for his response to the alleged Chinese encroachment on Benham Rise and reports that Beijing is also planning to build a station in Scarborough Shoal.

Reacting to reports that China plans to build a monitoring station in Scarborough, Duterte recently said that the Philippines cannot do anything to stop China from altering the disputed shoal, located some 124 nautical miles from Zambales.

China has since denied the report.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Duterte’s approach on the issue is wrong and the president must stand up to China.

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, water, outdoor and nature

A Vietnamese Coast Guard captain speaks to other ships as a Chinese Coast Guard vessel cuts across its path to prevent access to an oil rig situated west of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. | BLOOMBERG

“It is incorrect to say that there is nothing we can do to stop China. We still have several legal and diplomatic options, all of which must be exhausted in defending Philippine territory from foreign aggression,” Gatchalian said.

“The Philippines should never allow itself to be bullied by anyone, no matter how big and powerful that bully might be.”

Gatchalian said Duterte must also invoke the Philippines’ legal victory against China should Beijing step up its aggression in the South China Sea.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

A Filipino fishing vessel ventures into the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. —REM ZAMORA

Last July, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea. It also said, Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of the countries surrounding it and China may be violating the Philippines’ sovereign rights by blocking access to it.

“The favorable decision in the Philippines vs. China case is a potent tool we can use to enforce our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. It is our duty to invoke this ruling and take action before international legal institutions to contest any further acts of Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea,” Gatchalian said.

Philippines: Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary neither confirms nor denies reported strong formal protest to China on South China Sea

March 22, 2017
Composite photo shows acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Aguirre announced that the Philippines is preparing a “strong” protest against China to be filed in the Hague, The Netherlands. Manalo, however, remained mum. AP

MANILA, Philippines — Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo neither confirmed nor denied the reported strong formal protest that the Philippines is set to file against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II claimed that the Philippines is preparing to formally protest China’s plan to install a radar station at Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

READ: Philippines prepares protest vs China over Panatag

Manalo, however, said that the Philippines is still waiting for China’s reply regarding its reported plan in the disputed shoal.

“The other day, the Department of Foreign Affairs already issued or requested China for clarification on this reported plan. As I said, it’s only a reported plan so we’re seeking clarification from China,” Manalo said at a televised press briefing in Thailand.

The Philippine government is maintaining a regular and a close watch over Scarborough Shoal, Manalo said.

The country’s top diplomat added that there has been no change in the shoal and that Filipino fishermen can still freely access the area.

He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs would be aware of any developments in the area as they are receiving reports from the Coast Guard and security agencies.

‘Strategy’ in the works

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, said that filing a protest in connection to the maritime dispute over the South China is part of the government’s strategy.

Apparently addressing criticisms of inconsistency in the government’s foreign policy, the senator said that a long-term strategy us being formulated in resolving issues in the contested waters.

“These are all parts of the dynamics and the strategy so please understand and give a latitude at the DFA… because although we do have to report to the people, what country will be able to achieve its objectives if we announce our strategy while we’re implementing our strategy,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano, who is chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee and is reportedly eyed to be the next top diplomat, assured the public that the president will fight for the country’s territory.

“We continue to assure the people that President Duterte will not give up a single centimeter of Philippine territory,” Cayetano said.

On July 12, 2016, a United Nations-backed tribunal issued its ruling on the Philippines’ complaint against China’s so-called nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The arbitral tribunal ruled that China violated its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea when it built artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Duterte administration, however, said that it will set aside the arbitral tribunal’s ruling for the meantime in settling the dispute.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/22/1683560/dfa-chief-manalo-mum-strong-protest-vs-china

Related:

 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.