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PH rejects China’s ‘illegal’ four-month SCS fishing ban

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The Philippines on Monday rejected China’s imposition of a unilateral, four-month fishing moratorium in the South China Sea that includes Philippine maritime zones.

The Department of the Foreign Affairs said Beijing’s move heightens tension between the Philippines and China.

China’s latest fishing ban, which is set to last until Sept. 16, “directly contravenes” the understanding reached by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their bilateral discussion last year.

Beijing’s action came amid China’s continued harassment against Filipino troops and fishers in the West Philippines Sea, which includes conducting dangerous maneuvers and firing multiple times water cannon on resupply and humanitarian missions, among others.

The DFA called on China to cease and desist “from the conduct of illegal actions that violates the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in its maritime zones.”

It also urged Beijing to comply with its obligations under international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 arbitral award, as well as adhere to its commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The Foreign Affairs Department reasserted Paragraph 716 of the 2016 arbitral award which already ruled that China’s fishing moratorium is against international law.

Meanwhile, leaders of the House of Representatives vowed to create an inter-agency panel to look into the grievances raised by Zambales fisherfolk as well as the possible solutions suggested by stakeholders in the West Philippine Sea.

Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said Congress will definitely take note of what transpired in the joint hearing of the House Committees on National Defense and Security and the Special Committee on the West Philippine Sea.

“The budget season is almost here. We have heard those of our fisherfolks. So rest assured that we will form an inter-agency [panel] to have an answer to this request and their feelings,” he said.

Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, vice-chairperson of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, said the problems faced by Zambales fishermen from the aggressions of China in Philippine territory may require a multisectoral or inter-agency approach.

“This issue is complex, this problem is complex. So we need the help of many government agencies,” he said.

Zambales Rep. Jefferson Khonghun said the House of Representatives will exercise its oversight functions to validate the grievances of the Zambales fishermen.

The Atin Ito coalition, for its part, said they will launch an “Adopt-a-Payao” campaign in response to the ongoing challenges faced by Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in Subic, Bataan, and Masinloc.

The initiative aims to provide much-needed assistance to local fishing communities by deploying “payaos” or fish-aggregating devices, to help sustain their livelihoods amid illegal Chinese presence and harassment in the area.

Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement president and Atin Ito co-convenor Edicio Dela Torre said the continuous encroachment of China in the West Philippine Sea has significantly affected the livelihoods of Filipino fishers, hindering their ability to fish freely in their own waters.

“These fishers have fought bravely for our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. Now, it is our turn to stand by them and provide the support they urgently need,” Dela Torre said.

Akbayan President Rafaela David, also an Atin Ito co-convenor, said the “Adopt-a-Payao” campaign seeks to empower Filipino fishing communities and stand in solidarity with them against foreign aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

“Each payao deployed is not just a means of supporting our fishers but also an act of patriotism, a symbol of solidarity for our fellow Filipinos, and a firm stance against China’s unlawful actions in the West Philippine Sea,” David said.

A payao is a traditional fishing device from the Philippines designed to aggregate or lure fish. It typically consists of an anchored floating or submerged structure made of materials such as bamboo, steel, or other available resources.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Philippines protests China’s unilateral 4-month fishing ban


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