Duterte urged to seek Asean backing in stopping China from ‘ stealing our food, fish’
Opposition senators on Thursday urged Malacanang to assert and rally support from other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in enforcing the ruling on the Philippine’s exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
“Since before the decision, China has been taking our food. It’s been taking our fish. The government, in behalf of the Filipino people and especially our fisher folk, should enforce this decision so that our fisher folk can go back to this maritime space and fish,” Minority Leader Franklin Drilon along with Senators Bam Aquino, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV said in a joint statement.
“We suggest that the government use its ASEAN chairmanship to rally our allies and friends to this end, for our people, for our fisher folk,” they said.
The opposition senators said the government should not water down its victory in United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal which upheld the Philippines’s claims on West Philippine Sea.
The President said he would bring up the issue with Chinese President Xi Jingping either in a bilateral meeting or during a plenary session in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam.
The disputed area, which is about 381,000 square kilometres of maritime space which includes fish and other marine life, as well as oil, gas and mineral resources, is bigger than the Philippine land area.