Duterte’s proposition directly violates the Philippine Charter, the Fisheries Code, and the…
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III is wrong in claiming that it is “very difficult” to determine the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In an interview with ANC on June 26, Sotto weighed in on calls for President Rodrigo Duterte’s impeachment, after the chief executive said he will allow China to fish in the country’s EEZ -- a violation of the Constitution. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Allowing China to fish in PH EEZ violates Constitution, local laws)
“Then it would be a very good test case. I suggest that they file an impeachment and let’s see if they’re right. It’s very difficult to say that there is exclusivity when it’s underwater. The fish could be coming from China and the fish from the Philippines could be going to China.”
Source: ABS-CBN News, Sotto sees no problem with allowing Chinese fishers in PH waters | ANC, June 26, 2019, watch from 2:23 to 2:49
After receiving flak, Sotto clarified that his comment was made “tongue in cheek.”
Contrary to Sotto’s claim, the Philippines, through Republic Act 9522 or the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law, has already defined the areas in which it has “dominion, sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
The law establishes the country’s baselines, which were used to map out its EEZ.
An EEZ is an area beyond and adjacent to its territorial sea, which may not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal State.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal State like the Philippines, has exclusive or sovereign rights over its EEZ:
“...for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superadjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds.”
Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the State to “protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
ABS-CBN News, Sotto sees no problem with allowing Chinese fishers in PH waters | ANC, June 26, 2019
Official Gazette, RA 9522
Senate.gov.ph, Sponsorship speech on The 2009 Baselines Bill, Jan. 27, 2009
Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Philippines’ Memorial - Volume I (p. 47), March 30, 2014
Permanent Court of Arbitration, South China Sea Arbitration Award, July 12, 2016
United Nations, UNCLOS Part V: Exclusive Economic Zone
United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Official Gazette, 1987 Constitution
ABS-CBN News, Sotto defends 'tongue in cheek' remark on Chinese, PH fish, June 27, 2019
Inquirer.net, My views on West PH Sea row were just ‘tongue in cheek’ — Sotto, June 27, 2019
Rappler.com, Passport for fishes? Netizens poke fun at Sotto's fish remark, June 28, 2019