World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to issue an executive order prohibiting Filipino and Chinese crews from fishing within a disputed shoal, according to officials.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Monday that Duterte had discussed the matter with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru and Xi had welcomed the idea.
China has guarded the small but strategic Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea -- which Manila calls the Panatag Shoal and the West Philippine Sea, respectively -- for years.
Last month, reports claimed that Filipino fishermen were no longer being intercepted at the shoal for the first time in years, following Duterte’s meeting with Xi during a state visit to Beijing.
"Based on the interpretation, [Xi] said, 'We will mobilize government forces to promote our agreements, step up guidance to create favorable environment,'" the Sun.Star website quoted Andanar as saying Monday.
"That's what he said after President Duterte mentioned his proposed unilateral declaration to make [the Shoal] as marine sanctuary."
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said that once Duterte issues the executive order declaring a lagoon within the triangle-shaped shoal a marine sanctuary, crews will be allowed to fish outside Panatag.
"It is our position... not to have fishing activities inside the Triangle," he said.
According to Andanar, the Philippines government decided that such an executive order was preferable to asserting a victory granted in its favor by a Hague-based international tribunal earlier this year.
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 area.
Following the incident, China restricted access and the government of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, brought the arbitration case against Beijing.Last Mod: 21 Kasım 2016, 16:07