31 March 2019

Human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno said the Duterte administration appears to be “in denial” over reports of Filipino fisherfolk being harassed by foreigners in the West Philippine Sea, adding that the l government is obliged under domestic laws to protect them.

“Parang in denial ang ating spokesperson at ang pamahalaan pagdating diyan sa bagay na yan,” Diokno said during a guesting at BISErbisyong Leni, Vice President Leni Robredoʼs Sunday radio program, on March 31.

Malacañang earlier downplayed reports that Filipino fisherfolk are being harassed by the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea, saying the allegations should be proven first.

“Pag nakakausap natin mismo ang mga mangingisda ay personal knowledge po nila, sila mismo ang nakakaranas niyan,” Diokno emphasized.

Diokno explained that it is not just the 2016 Arbitral Award that protects Filipino fisherfolk, as the government also has obligations under domestic law to ensure they are free from harassment.

“Hindi lang yung Arbitral Tribunal yung nagpoprotekta sa kanila e. As way back as 1978, meron na tayong Presidential Decree 1599 na kinikilala niya yung 200 nautical miles niyan. We also passed another law, R.A. 9522, recognizing the archipelagic baselines” he said.

“Hindi natin puwedeng sabihin na sa ano lang yan, international lang yan,” Diokno said.

“In fact, sa Fisheries Code, nandoon din yun na it is the duty of our government na protektahan ang ating mga municipal fisherfolk,” he added.

“Yun ang nakakalungkot na parang hindi nangyayari. Baliktad pa nga nangyayari,” Diokno said.

Diokno also addressed the topic at the National Convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Iloilo last Friday, where he issued a stern warning to the administration for its failure to guard against foreign intrusion in Philippine territory.

“The President and his minions, by letting China have its way in the West Philippine Sea, are actually violating PD 1599, the Fisheries Code, R.A. 9522, and the 1987 Constitution. And for this, they should be held accountable,” he said Friday.

“The Presidentʼs green light policy has emboldened China…our government should be protesting these intrusions instead of condoning them. This betrayal of the public trust will affect not only our generation of Filipinos but our children and their children as well,” he added.