Let’s share, Philippines tells Vietnam, China

By Dang Khoa   June 19, 2018 | 06:28 pm PT
Let’s share, Philippines tells Vietnam, China
A fisherman repairs his boat in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea in a file photo by Reuters.
U.N. tribunal rules Scarborough Shoal a traditional fishing ground for three countries.

The Philippines wants Vietnam and China to sign a fishing agreement at Scarborough Shoal after a U.N. tribunal ruled the region was a traditional fishing ground for Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.

In July 2016, a U.N. tribunal had not been able to reach a conclusion on the territorial issue, which decides the ownership of the shoal. However, it was able to decide on the maritime issue of fishing.

The Philippines’s Acting Chief Justice, Antonio Carpio, told The Philippine Star that China had refused to acknowledge that decision.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Carpio said: "We should maintain our position, because otherwise China will later on say, 'You have been fishing there and you have accepted that you're fishing there because we have allowed you out of the goodness of our heart.'"

The judge also added that if the fishing agreement is signed, it will be regulated to protect the area’s marine life.

Philippines could also sign a boundary agreement with Vietnam on the Spratly Islands. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had suggested the idea to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte could possibly sign that “median line” boundary agreement between the two countries, Carpio said.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which about $3-trillion worth of goods passes every year. It has made substantial progress in fortifying its manmade islands in the past few years, which it says it has the right to defend. Vietnam calls the waterway the East Sea and has repeatedly stressed its sovereignty rights over the Paracel and Spraty Islands.

At the end of May 2018, the Philippines expressed "serious concern" over the presence of China's strategic bombers in the disputed waters, but its response to the installation of missile systems was muted.

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