Duterte-Xi accord ‘not policy’ –– DFA

Teodoro Locsin Jr.

THE supposed verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Xi Jinping allowing Chinese to fish in the West Philippine Sea is “not policy” and thus, cannot be enforced.

This was the clarification made by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. when he was interviewed Wednesday at ANC’s Headstart.

“I have said worse things but the question is — is it policy? It’s not policy,” Locsin said.

He explained that for an agreement to be binding, a document is needed to prove that the agreement exists “because that’s the way it is.”

“It’s pointless,” Locsin said about the verbal agreement, adding that Duterte might have been led to believe that there was a surplus of the allowable catch in Philippine waters.

Under Article 62 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), other states can be allowed access to the surplus of the allowable catch of the coastal state.

The Philippines can only share to foreign fishermen the fish in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) if there is a surplus.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources would be the agency to determine the allowable fishing catch, as well as the surplus or excess, within Philippine EEZ.

China missile launch

In another development Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government will investigate the reported Chinese missile launch in the South China Sea.

China’s missile launch near the Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands was reported by the US but Philippine officials were not aware of the military exercise.

“We have no firsthand knowledge about this missile launch,” Lorenzana said in a text message to reporters.

“We will conduct our own inquiry and will decide later what to do if proven correct,” he added.