DFA calls on China not to fish in PHL waters

May 9, 2013 1:21 am 

MANILA, May 8 -– The Philippines called on China Wednesday to respect its internationally-recognized territory and sovereignty in the South China Sea amid reports that 30 vessels have been deployed to scour the contested waters for fish and other resources.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said it would be a violation of international law such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS if China proceeds with its fishing expedition in areas that would include Philippine territorial waters.

“The Philippines has international obligation to ensure the sustainable management of these resources. China is in violation of international law if it interferes with the sovereign rights of the Philippines,” Hernandez told a press briefing.

In another provocative assertion over the resource-rich waters, a flotilla of fishing vessels, the largest Chinese deployment to date, reportedly sailed to the South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

The vessels, according to Chinese state media, will harvest marine resources for about 40 days.

Hernandez said the Philippines has all the rights to defend its maritime entitlements, noting “the maritime resources in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone belongs to the Filipino people.”

China cites historical entitlements as the basis for its huge claim in the South China Sea – wherein parts of which are called West Philippine Sea by the Philippines.

Tensions flared between Manila and Beijing last year when Chinese government ships prevented the Philippines from arresting Chinese poachers in the Philippine-administered Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, resulting to a dangerous standoff.

The incident further emboldened China to aggressively pursue its territorial claim over the waters and has blocked Philippine access to the shoal, which Manila says lies within its UN-sanctioned 200-nautical mile EEZ entitlement to coastal states. (PNA)



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