World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expressed hope Sunday that Filipino fishermen may soon be able to fish in a disputed shoal following his visit to Beijing.
“We did not talk about arms, we didn’t talk about war. We talked about how we can help each other. We will just wait for a few more days, we might return to Scarborough Shoal, fishing by our countrymen,” he was quoted as saying by the Inquirer.
He made the comments during a visit to Tuguegarao, the capital of northern Cagayan province, one of the areas hardest-hit by a typhoon earlier this week.
The Philippines and China have overlapping claims to the Scarborough Shoal -- also known as the Panatag Shoal -- in an eastern region of the South China Sea -- which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
The shoal was the site of a standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels in 2012 when the Philippine navy tried to apprehend Chinese vessels fishing in the shoal.
Following the incident, China restricted access to the area and the government of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, brought an arbitration case against Beijing in a Hague-based international tribunal.
In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration said fishermen from the Philippines had traditional fishing rights in the shoal but China had interfered with these rights by restricting access. Beijing declared the court's award "null and void".
Since taking office in June, Duterte has talked of forging links with China, where he paid a four-day state visit earlier this week.
After returning to the Philippines late Friday night, he told reporters he had brought about the issue of the shoal during “private talks”, but refused to provide details.
“Yes of course we did [bring up the issue]. I leave it to the Chinese authorities what they will do in the next few days… Let’s see what develops in the days to come,” he said in southern Davao City, where he served 22 years as mayor.Last Mod: 23 Ekim 2016, 16:33