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Filipinos may soon gain back access to the traditional fishing grounds in the disputed South China Sea but with certain limitations following his meeting with the leaders of China, President Duterte announced yesterday.
The President shared the imminent breakthrough about the fishing rights of Filipino fishermen even as the Philippines and China refused to back down on their respective territorial claims in the South China Sea.
“Wala ho kaming pinag-usapang armas, wala ho kaming pinag-usapang gyera-gyera o maglagay ng…Pinag-usapan namin kung papaano tayo magtulungan,” Duterte said during a visit to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan which was devastated by typhoon “Lawin” (international name “Haima”).
“We’ll just wait for a few more days. Baka makabalik na tayo doon sa Scarborough Shoal, ang pangingisda ng ating mga kababayan,” he said.
The President, however, said he would appeal to local fishermen to avoid the shallow breeding grounds of fishes in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as the Panatag Shoal, to ensure a stable supply of marine resources. He described this “spawning ground” of fishes and other marine life as the “lagoon” or the green part of the ocean.
“Ako na mismo ang nagsabi na kung makabalik tayo sa Scarborough Shoal, bilang may-ari, sabi rin nila sila may-ari, ako na magsabi na huwag kayo mangisda dyan. Yung parang fish pond sa dagat,” Duterte said.
Duterte said it was imperative to protect the country’s rich marine resources since Filipinos heavily rely on them for sustenance.
“The cheapest we can buy is the marine products so it behooves upon us to really not to gamble and destroy the spawning grounds because then it would result in an imbalance in our food,” he said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)