The Department of National Defense (DND) said Thursday that it is ready to enforce the country’s maritime laws in the wake of reports that China is imposing fishing regulations in the West Philippine Sea ****.
“The defense establishment is ready to assist in enforcing the maritime rules in the Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” DND spokesman Peter Galvez said.
“We will enforce [measures to protect] our resources,” he added.
Galvez was asked to comment on reports that China is now requiring foreign fishermen to seek its permission to operate in the West Philippine Sea, the subject of a territorial row in the region.
The policy reportedly took effect last month and covered two million hectares of the area, which is rich in oil and maritime resources.
The Philippine government, however, is still validating the reports about the new fishing regulation.
“We will have to verify statements regarding this alleged fishing rules by China,” Galvez said.
The defense official, nevertheless, stressed that all countries “are free to enforce fishing rules within their own EEZ.”
Reports about the fishing regulation came two months after China imposed an air defense zone above waters separating China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The policy which required all aircraft to identify themselves and to report their flight plans to the Chinese government while flying through the zone.
The zone, which spans 1,000 kilometers from north to south, drew flak from several countries who view it as an infringement on the freedom of flight in international airspace.
China is claiming almost the entire West Philippine Sea through its so-called nine-dash line, which covers more than 100 islets, atolls and reefs. China’s claims also overlap with those of the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam.
Last January, the Philippines challenged China’s territorial claim before an international tribunal of the United Nations.
The Philippines said China’s nine-dash line is exaggerated and contrary to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The country has also called on China to desist from unlawful activities that violate its sovereign rights and jurisdiction. China has ignored the Philippines’ protests and insisted that the dispute be settled through bilateral negotiations.
Chinese vessels even insensified the conduct of illegal fishing and patrols in areas that are well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile EEZ. The lack of military capability, however, has prevented the Philippine government from scaring or repelling the intruders.
Article Source: The Philippine Star