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DFA backs Palawan protest on China’s SCS fishing ban

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The Department of Foreign Affairs has lauded the provincial government of Palawan for passing a resolution protesting China’s unilateral fishing ban imposed in the highly contested South China Sea.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, the DFA commended the effort of the Palawan government in coming up with Provincial Resolution No. 15968 Series of 2021 to protest the fishing ban.

“The DFA commends the efforts of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan in fighting for the rights of fisherfolk in their affected community through the adoption of Provincial Resolution No. 15968, expressing its strong protest against China’s unilateral declaration and imposition of a fishing ban in the South China Sea and supporting the diplomatic protest filed by the DFA,” the DFA said, on its Twitter.

“This laudable initiative demonstrates that all branches and levels of government have an important role to play in defending our country’s interests,” the department added.

“The DFA commends the efforts of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan in fighting for the rights of fisherfolk in their affected community through the adoption of Provincial Resolution No. 15968, expressing its strong protest against China’s unilateral declaration and — DFA Philippines (@DFAPHL) October 16, 2021,” it said,

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The DFA in May 2021 rejected China’s moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea from May 1 to Aug. 16, 2021 covering “waters north of 12 degrees north latitude” in the South China Sea, which includes “areas over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction,”

“China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China’s legitimate maritime entitlements under the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and is without basis under international law,” the DFA stressed.

The department pointed out that according to Paragraph 716 of the Award of the South China Sea Arbitration rendered on 12 July 2016, China, by promulgating its moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea, “without exception for areas of the South China Sea falling within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and without limiting the moratorium to Chinese flagged vessels, breached Article 56 of the 1982 UNCLOS with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the living resources of its exclusive economic zone.”

The 2016 Arbitral Award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration also upheld the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen.

“China cannot legally impose nor legally enforce such a moratorium in the West Philippine Sea,” DFA said.

“The Philippines strongly urges China to desist from any action and activity that infringes on Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, in contravention of international law,” the department added.

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