- President Duterte appealed to China to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in Scarborough Shoal
- Duterte said it’s about time China should consider returning the privilege of the Filipinos to fish there
- The President expressed hopes that the bilateral talks between China and the Philippines would start soon
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, August 23, called on China to let Filipino fishermen fish in disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea.
Although he did not directly say that China should comply with the July decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague that said China’s massive territorial claims in the South China Sea based on historical grounds were invalid, the President said it’s about time China lets the Filipino fishermen fish in their traditional fishing grounds.
“It’s about time that they should consider returning the privilege of the Filipinos to fish there,” President Duterte said referring to past Chinese restrictions on tourism and on access for Filipino fishermen to Chinese-controlled Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, which China seized four years ago.
As per an article published by Philstar on August 24, 2016, the President made the appeal as he expressed hopes that the bilateral talks between China and the Philippines would start soon.
President Duterte said he prefers to engage China in bilateral talks than take an aggressive stance that could anger Chinese officials into completely cutting ties with the country.
“If you disregard the bilateral talks, where will we go? Better to continually engage China in a diplomatic dialogue rather than anger officials there and they cut ties completely,” the President said.