Press Release
June 25, 2019

Hontiveros on Duterte allowing China to fish in PH's EEZ: MAHIRAP MAG-FRIEND ZONE SA EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE

"Hindi maaaring makipag-friend zone si Pangulo sa ating exclusive economic zone."

This was the reaction of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday regarding President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that he will continue to allow China to fish within the Philippines' Exclusive Econonic Zone (EEZ), saying both countries are "friends."

This comes on the heels of the ramming of the F/B GEM-VER 1 by a Chinese fishing boat last June 9 at Recto Bank. Twenty two Filipino fishermen were abandoned at sea by the Chinese, and were later rescued by the crew of a Vietnamese ship after the crew of the GEM-VER-1 spent hours in the sea.

"While we recognize and celebrate our long ties with China, this is no reason for President Duterte to surrender our sovereign rights and to disregard our own Constitution and laws amid China's brazen incursions in our territory. It is an area where we have exclusive and special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources and other economic activities. Hindi maaaring makipag-friend zone si Pangulo sa ating exclusive economic zone," Hontiveros said.

"Just when you thought President Duterte's foreign policy track couldn't get any more dysfunctional and absurd, the President finds a new way to toe Beijing's line and enable China's misdeeds in the West Philippine Sea," she added.

In an interview on Monday, the president said that China, "as friends," will continue to fish in waters within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

"After he dismisses the pain of our fishermen by calling the ramming a minor incident, he adds insult to injury by allowing China's fishermen to fish in our waters. He has apparently forgotten that it was Chinese fishermen who left 22 Filipinos at the mercy of the sea," Hontiveros stressed.

Hontiveros reminded President Duterte of his duties to the nation. "The president swore an oath to execute the country's laws; he cannot allow any country to disregard and violate the country's maritime and fishing laws: friends or not, our loyalty as government officials must ultimately lie with the interests of the sovereign Filipino nation and its Constitution and laws," Hontiveros concluded.

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