PH asserts claim on disputed isle

The government said Tuesday it would assert the country’s sovereign claim over Pagasa (Thitu) Island, with plans to develop it as a tourist spot, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.

PH asserts claim on disputed isle
TOURISTS’ ISLAND. Moves are underway to develop the Thitu Island in the Spratly’s Group into  a tourist spot with amenities such as hotel and other structures, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Thitu, also known as Pagasa,  will have its beaching ramp to facilitate the movement of heavy equipment to the tourist island. AMTI
“In the future, we will be building structures for our troops there and maybe some hotels for Filipinos who would like to go there as tourists,” Lorenzana said in a press briefing.

Lorenzana said a “beaching ramp” is in the works at Pagasa, which is part of the Kalayaan Island Group off Palawan, to facilitate the movement of construction and heavy equipment to the 37-hectare island.

“We are on track in rebuilding or repairing our runway in Pagasa,” he added.

READ: China in position, not in possession of WPS, Palace men say

Meanwhile, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio urged the Senate to either ratify or repudiate President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 verbal agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping allowing Chinese to fish in West Philippine Sea, which is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Carpio made the call even as he described as “lopsided” the President’s verbal fishing agreement because Chinese fishing boats can easily harvest all the fish in the South China Sea.

Carpio argued that the 1987 Constitution reserves the exploitation of marine resources within the exclusive economic zone or EEZ to Filipinos.

READ: IBP, 7 fishermen drop SC petition for writ to protect WPS

“The ball is in the court of the Senate. It has to act now to either ratify or repudiate that, it’s up to the Senate now... That agreement if you allow China to fish, that requires a treaty or international agreement. That requires concurrence of the Senate,” Carpio said, in an interview with ABS-CBN news channel, ANC.

“The decision of the President must go through the Senate. The Filipino people should know, is that a fair arrangement? To allow the Chinese to fish with their huge fishing fleet? Without any limitation on how many tons of fish they can get in the Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea while our small bancas are there fishing outside the lagoon of the Scarborough Shoal?” he added.

According to Carpio, while international agreements allow foreign nations to fish inside another state’s EEZ in case of a “surplus,” he said such a surplus does not exist in the Philippines.

“We are 105-million people. There is not enough fish for us in the West Philippine Sea. Why will we allow the Chinese to fish when they can scoop all the fish and they don’t allow us to fish in their own waters? Of course, there’s no fish there anymore,” he said.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo dismissed Carpio’s claim, saying that fish will not run out in the disputed waters.

“How did he know that fish will run out?” Panelo said, adding that fish reproduce, thereby replenishing the supply.

READ: ‘More action, less talk government’

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Topics: Pagasa (Thitu) Island , Delfin Lorenzana , Antonio Carpio , West Philippine Sea , Xi Jinping
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