Vice President Leni Robredo emphasized on Thursday, June 27, 2019, that resources within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) should be enjoyed solely by Filipinos, as she stressed that the proposal to allow the Chinese to fish in the West Philippine Sea would be a violation of the Constitution. 

“Sa term pa lang, Igan, kaya nga tinatawag na exclusive economic zone kasi iyong ating Konstitusyon—iyong 1987 Constitution—very specific iyong probisyon ng batas na iyong exclusive economic zone, for the exclusive use and enjoyment iyon ng Filipino citizens,” VP Leni said in an interview with GMA anchor Arnold Clavio on Unang Hirit. 

“Kaya kapag sinabi mong papayagan mong mangisda doon iyong hindi… hindi mga Pilipino, labag iyon sa Konstitusyon,” she said. 

VP Leni also added that in her recent visit to the fishermen who figured in an allision with a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank, the fishermen lamented China’s continued harassment of Filipino fishing vessels in the area which falls within the Philippine EEZ, saying the Chinese’s aggression have greatly affected their livelihood. 

“In fact, iyon din iyong isang kahilingan ng mga mangingisda, na sana nakakabuwelo din sila sa hanapbuhay doon kasi talagang talong-talo sila. Talong-talo sila ng Chinese fishing vessels. Hindi talaga sila maka-buwelo sa pangingisda. Eh, iyon nga, very specific iyong ating constitutional provisions na dapat exclusive iyan para sa use and enjoyment of Filipino citizens,” said VP Leni. 

The Vice President made this assertion after President Duterte said that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed that Chinese fishermen would be allowed to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ in the West Philippine Sea and benefit from the country’s natural resources, citing Manila’s “friendship” with Beijing.

Asked if it worries her that she might be criticized by administration allies for asserting the right of Filipinos under the Constitution, VP Leni stressed: “Kahit ano pang name-calling iyong gawin natin, andiyan iyong batas, eh.” 

“Nandiyan iyong Konstitusyon, nandiyan iyong mga batas na pinasa ng Kongreso. Hindi naman iyon mababago unless iyong Kongreso iyong magbago, unless baguhin natin iyong Konstitusyon,” she said. 

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