Carpio warns Philippines may lose right over Scarborough if it accepts China’s ‘goodwill’

Bandera (Mindanao) - - NEWS -

THE Philippines may lose its legal right to fish on Scarborough shoal if it concedes to China’s narrative that it only allowed Filipino fishermen there “out of goodwill.”

This was the warning of acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, in a television interview on Thursday, amid a controversy surrounding fishing rights in the disputed reef.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang earlier said they have only been allowing Filipino fishermen to fish in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal “out of goodwill.”

But for Carpio, China’s “goodwill” to let Filipinos fish in the area was “immaterial.”

He explained that any fisherman from the three countries—Philippines, China, or Vietnam—can conduct fishing activities in Scarborough since it was ruled as a common fishing ground.

“I’mworried. If we accept their narrative, we will be giving up the legal right to be there,” Carpio said over CNN Philippines.

“Whether it’s goodwill or not, it is immaterial because the tribunal said it is a common fishing ground,” he also stressed.

Earlier, a mobile phone footage obtained by a local television network revealed that Chinese Coast Guard officers had been approaching Filipino fishermen to take their daily catch.

The government has since come under fire from the outraged public and political opposition. Fish thievery

The Philippines is not conceding to China the country’s legal rights to fish on Scarborough shoal, Malacañang said on Thursday, even calling as “fish thievery” the actions of Chinese Coast Guard officers taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

“We do not concede,” Roque said in a Palace briefing after acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio warned the government that it may lose its legal right to fish on Scarborough if it concedes to China’s narrative that it only allowed Filipino fishermen there “out of goodwill.”

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said on Tuesday that “some sort of barter trade” have been going on between Filipino fishermen and members of the Chinese Coast Guard after fishermen from Masinloc, Zamabales said the Chinese have been taking their catch in exchange of noodles, cigarettes and water.

“Unang-una hindi po natin tinatanggap na barter ‘yun. Kaya ‘yung mga balita na ako raw nagsabi na barter, ang sabi ko nga po fish thievery pero tagalugin na natin, pangongotong, I think, pangingikil, ano ba mas maganda , pagnanakaw ‘no. Pero parang mas maganda ‘yung pangongotong,” Roque said.

During the Palace briefing on Monday, Roque said the fishermen told him that the Chinese were taking their catch in exchange of noodles, cigarettes, and water.

“So for lack of better word, let’s call it pangongotong in Tagalog, which is fish thievery. I have never really addressed it as barter but there’s a possibility given the language barrier that they consider it as a barter, but from our point of view it is not. I hope that’s clear,” he said.

Reports have said that even the fishermen from Infanta in Pangasinan also experienced the same incident from the Chinese at Scarborough.

“Well, what I am saying is if it is happening, it is wrong. We have communicated the fact that we view this to be wrong and the Chinese have said that they are looking into it. Let’s await the results of the investigation,” he said.

The Palace official said Mr. Duterte was aware of the incident.

“The President knows about the issue as you know and he has addressed the issue,” he said.

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