Beijing agreed to stop blocking Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal as long as the Chinese would have access to Recto Bank. Duterte argued banning Chinese fishermen from the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) would cause problems. He confirmed the deal in a speech last week but his spokesman has revealed the deal has not been signed and is informal.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said on ANC’s Early Edition: “That was more of an informal agreement rather than documented.
“I don’t think they signed an agreement. They just talk.
“You know world leaders they have a word of honour.”
Panelo was asked is the agreement was legally binding despite the lack of documentation.
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He added: “Why not? There is nothing wrong with it.
“The president already revealed exactly what they talked about.
“He detailed what President Xi said, what he said, what the effect was.”
Panelo went on to say if their demands are not met, they won’t invoke anything.
Duterte has since defended his decision to give Beijing a free pass.
He came under heavy criticism for allegedly violating Section 2, Article 12 of the Philippine Constitution after he allowed Chinese fishermen free reign in their waters.
The article in question reads: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
Other nations are currently allowed to fish in the zone – but to many, the symbolism of Chinese ships in Philippine waters presents a bigger issue.