DAVAO CITY – A partylist lawmaker urged the Hague-based UN Permanent Court of Arbitration to expedite its decision on the South China Sea dispute.
Anakpawis Partylist Representative Fernando Hicap said the Philippine fisherfolk “cannot wait for June in which the tribunal is set to give verdict on the case as the economic survival of their sector is on the line.”
Hicap cited the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas who said that around 12,000 small fisherfolk and their families in the municipalities of Iba, Olongapo.
Sta. Cruz and Masinloc in Zambales province are the areas directly affected by the illegal incursion and the constant harassment of China’s naval force in Panatag Shoal.
“Panatag Shoal is 230 km from Zambales, it is clearly inside the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone. Our fisher folk has the right to go there, the government should protect them from any Chinese navy harassment” said Hicap.
“Our fisher folks’ economic issue is also part of our struggle for national sovereignty against China. Zambales fisher folk cannot wait any longer for the international tribunal to settle the case,” he said.
“They have mouths to feed along with their other daily needs; China clearly is depriving their basic human rights to access to livelihood,” added Hicap
In addition, Hicap reiterated their call to provide immediate aid to the affected fisher folks who are still unable to go to the Panatag Shoal, which is their traditional fishing ground.
Aside from China’s illegal activity in the Panatag Shoal, local fisher folks are also confronted with problems of the implementation of municipal ordinances that limits the fishing area of the small fisher folk, said Hicap.
He said the effect of big mining companies and coal power plants operating in the province are causing environmental destruction resulting to lesser fish catch also adds to the problems of the fisher folks.
Hicap said the dispute should be resolve in a legal and diplomatic manner. (davaotoday.com)