Senate leaders prodded the Duterte administration on Monday to take up the cudgels and directly convey to Beijing the latest case of Filipino fishermen who complained they were harassed by a Chinese naval patrol while fishing within Philippine territory.
“Tell the Chinese authorities. They will not tolerate that,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said, when asked about the administration’s options on the latest incident of harassment of Filipino fishermen in their traditional fishing grounds well within Philippine territory.
Concerned senators also recalled the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) had ruled in favor of the Philippine’s case, declaring Scarborough Shoal as international fishing ground and insisted that China cannot illegally occupy it or claim ownership.
Sotto, however, said he would rather let Malacañang handle the matter. “The President is the architect of our foreign policy,” Sotto said in a text message to the BusinessMirror. “We are no longer US-focused. We are now gearing toward friendly ties with all nations.”
He recalled that “our friendship with the US made us target of Japan during the Second World War.”
“The same day they bombed Pearl Harbor, we were also bombed in Baguio and Clark [Air field]. Almost 1 million died in that war. They clashed in our backyard, Sotto added. “No country wants to go to war that is why we are exhausting all possible means to avoid it from happening.”
This, even as the Senate President also aired an appeal “to the media and our countrymen not to swallow everything the doomsayers say.”
It will be recalled that the PCA in July ruled that China’s nine-dash line claim over 90 percent of South China Sea has no legal basis.
The PCA, likewise, ruled that China was illegally occupying and cannot claim ownership over Scarborough Shoal. It declared that the shoal, though within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), is not owned by any country, and is an international traditional fishing ground for Filipinos, Vietnamese, and other Asians.