“The Philippine Government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea because it will violate the Constitution,” Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio said in a statement.
Justice Carpio quoted the Constitution which states “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
“This means that the Philippine Government cannot allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. This also means that the “use and enjoyment” of the fish in our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipinos,” Carpio said.
He added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is specifically mandated by the Constitution to be “the protector of the people” and to “secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory.”
“The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President, who has the constitutional duty to direct the Armed Forces to protect the nation’s marine wealth in its Exclusive Economic Zone,” Justice Carpio said.
“For purposes of our Constitution, the “national territory” includes our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank,” he explained.
“The Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to exploit all the fish, oil, gas and other mineral resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone. This sovereign right belongs to the Filipino people, and no government official can waive this sovereign right of the Filipino people without their consent,” he said.