Only Philippine authorities, especially the ones specified in Section 124 of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, have the power to cite and arrest violators of laws protecting fish and other marine life in the West Philippine Sea, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and other bodies of water throughout our 7,641 islands.
I, therefore, lament the recent actions of the Chinese Coast Guard against our Filipino fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc and at other waters at any time. They do not have the authority to enforce any fisheries, marine, and maritime laws in our waters because our waters are not part of their EEZ, and we are not a province of China. The 2016 Arbitral Ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration is clear when it provided that China has no rights over the nine-dash line because it exceeds what is entitled under international law.
I hope the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will improve their coordination and presence in the West Philippine Sea and coordinate better with the groups of Filipino fisherfolk. I also hope they will improve their advocacy and public information campaign on the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 so that Filipino fisherfolk will be better informed on what can and cannot be harvested from our waters.