Joint fishing in WPS could be done sans agreement: Roque

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., on Tuesday said joint fishing in the West Philippine Sea between Filipino and Chinese fishermen could be done even without agreement between the two countries.

Roque, in a press briefing at the sidelines of the Philippine quincentennial commemoration of the Victory of Mactan, invoked a provision of the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to support his assertion on traditional fishing rights between contesting countries.

“The Tribunal notes that the traditional fishing rights may exist even within the territorial waters of another State 381 and considers that its jurisdiction to address this dispute is not dependent on a prior determination of sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal,” Roque said, quoting paragraph 407 of the arbitral ruling.

In explaining the provision, he said joint fishing can be done at the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, among the fishermen from the Philippines, China and even Vietnam not by virtue of an agreement but because of the decision of the international arbitral court in The Netherlands, which the Filipinos are relying on.

He said a portion of the arbitration award must be respected, even if it is not favorable to a country.

“Pinanindigan po ng Presidente natin, President (Rodrigo) Duterte itong panalo natin kasama po yung desisyon na meron talagang traditional fishing na puedeng mangyari sa parte ng mga Pilipino, Vietnamese, at Tsino dyan po sa Scarborough Shoal (President Duterte has stood for our arbitral win which includes a decision on the traditional fishing rights by the Filipinos, Vietnamese and Chinese there in Scarborough Shoal),” Roque said.

Meanwhile, Roque said Duterte recognized the heroism of Lapu-Lapu in winning the battle against Spanish invaders on April 27, 1521, which made him the first Filipino to stand and fight against the then colonial interest of Europeans.

“Dahil dito kinalala ni President Rodrigo Roa Dutete ang kabayanihan ni Lapu-Lapu. Nagbigay-pugay ang ating Pangulo ng kanyang nilagdaan ang EO 17 noong Abril 7, 2017 or apat na taon na ang nakalipas na nag-create ng Order of Lapu-Lapu na nagkilala ng mga opisyal at mga tauhan ng pamalahaan at maging pribadong indibidwal sa kanilang natatanging serbisyo or extraordinary service kaugnay ng kampanya o adbokasiya ng Pangulo (Because of this, President Rodrigo Roa Dutete considers the heroism of Lapu-Lapu. The President paid his tribute to him when he signed Executive Order 17 last April 7, 2017 or four years ago which created the Order of Lapu-Lapu that seeks to recognize officials and workers of the government and even private individuals who display extraordinary service in relation to the campaign or advocacy of the President),” he said.

He added that some members of the Philippine Marines were bestowed with the Order of Lapu-Lapu award for fighting against the ISIS-inspired Maute fighters in Marawi City in 2017.

Duterte also signed a proclamation declaring April 27 a “special working day” in the entire country to pay tribute to the heroism of Lapu-Lapu. PNA.GOV.PH