Fisherfolks protest before Chinese consulate against arrest threats in West PH Sea

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This article is available in Pilipino

Fisherfolks and other democratic organizations protested before the Chinese consulate in Makati City to call for the removal of the “tresspass rule” or China’s threat to arrest “foreigners” entering its “territory” in the South China Sea. The Chinese Coast Guard will begin to enforce the order tomorrow, June 15. China will detain those arrested for 30 to 60 days.

“Like we defied China’s unjust fishing ban in the South China Sea, we will resist its threat to arrest alleged trespassers in our territorial fishing grounds,” Joey Marabe, coordinator of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)-Zambales, said.

China’s order will cover some parts of the Philippines’ sovereign waters that are within the country’s exclusive economic zone. The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 at The Hague invalidated China’s alleged 9-dash line covering the entire South China Sea.

It defines the Philippine maritime territory covering 12-nautical miles (22 kilometers) from its shores, and the 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelves. It recognized the Panatag Shoal as a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fisherfolks and deemed China’s prevention of Filipino Fisherfolk from fishing on the reef as a violation.

Pamalakaya-Zambales said, China’s “trespass rule” has no legal, political or moral basis, like its 4-month “fishing ban.”

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) joined the fisherfolk’s protest. “China is once again asserting its imaginary claims over our waters. It is China which should stop trespassing into our territories,” the group said.

For the Fisherfolk of Zambales, China’s reclamation projects, massive illegal fishing and its other activities in Philippine waters should be banned. “These destructive activities have already cost us not only marine ecosystems, but also a significant amount of income of Filipino fisherfolk.” Marabe said.

The Pamalakaya report said the income of Fisherfolk in Zambales dropped by 80% due to the militarization of China and its destructive activities in the country’s waters. They were additionally damaged when the US and Philippine military conducted the Balikatan war games and blew up an old ship in the West Philippine Sea last April to May.

“[We must] demilitarize the West Philippine Sea and remove military facilities and expel all foreign warships from it without distinction,” Marabe called.

For Bayan, the fisherfolk’s defiance against China’s fishing ban and trespass rule in the West Philippine Sea and the solidarity of fellow Filipinos proves that the people are ready to defend the country’s sovereignty. “Mobilizing the people should be the priority of the Marcos Jr. government instead of its subservient policy of allowing the expansion of the US military presence in the country,” the group said.

The fisherfolk and other sectors’ protest before the Chinese consulate was blocked by the police. The rallyists jostled to get close to the consulate. At the end of their program, they tore off a paper replica of of Chinese President Xi Jingping’s face.

AB: Fisherfolks protest before Chinese consulate against arrest threats in West PH Sea