Group warns of ‘to­tal surrender’

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Mariejo S. Ramos @MariejoRamosINQ

Mil­i­tant fishermen’s group Pam­bansang Lakas ng Kilu­sang Ma­ma­malakaya ng Pilip­inas (Pa­malakaya) on Fri­day de­nounced plans to seal a deal be­tween the Philip­pines and China for joint oil ex­plo­ration in the West Philip­pine Sea, say­ing such a pact would be “to­tal surrender” of Philip­pine ter­ri­tory.

The group said should the Philip­pines en­ter the deal, it would le­git­imize China’s nine- dash line, a highly con­tested his­tor­i­cal claim of China on the South China Sea, in­clud­ing 80 per­cent of exclusive eco­nomic zone and extended con­ti­nen­tal shelf of the Philip­pines.

Last nail

Pa­malakaya blamed China for build­ing ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands in­tended for mil­i­tary buildup on the West Philip­pine Sea de­spite the 2017 rul­ing of the in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal for the Law of the Sea in fa­vor of the Philip­pines that in­val­i­dated China’s claims.

Fer­nando Hi­cap, Pa­malakaya na­tional chair, said joint oil and gas ex­plo­ration would be the last nail in the cof­fin of the Philip­pines’ con­trol in the West Philip­pine Sea.

He said China was likely to use the joint venture as a pre­cur­sor not only to com­pletely take over Philip­pine wa­ters, but also to grab its re­sources, in­clud­ing oil and gas re­serves.

“By al­low­ing China to con­duct ex­plo­ration in the wa­ters it il­le­gally oc­cu­pies, the Philip­pine govern­ment is openly rec­og­niz­ing its ab­surd historic claim,” Hi- cap said in the state­ment.

“China has al­ready de­voured our marine re­sources es­pe­cially in Scar­bor­ough Shoal where Chi­nese poach­ers are do­ing fish­ing expedition on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Hi­cap said.

“Now they are go­ing to ex­ploit our petroleum po­ten­tials in the West Philip­pine Sea,” he said.

“We con­demn this grand pup­petry and sub­servience to China,” he added.

En­ergy Sec­re­tary Al­fonso Cusi on Wed­nes­day an­nounced that two joint oil and gas ex­plo- ra­tion deals in the West Philip­pine Sea awaited Pres­i­dent Duterte’s sig­na­ture.

Mora­to­rium

The project may in­clude China’s state-owned oil pro­ducer, China Na­tional Off­shore Oil Corp.

He urged the govern­ment to lift the 2012 mora­to­rium on oil ex­plo­ration in dis­puted ar­eas of South China Sea.

But Hi­cap said Cusi’s move was his way of giv­ing Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping a “warm wel­come.”

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