Palace: No verbal fishing deal between Duterte, Xi

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23)— Malacañang on Friday denied there is a verbal fishing agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, stressing the Philippines' chief executive does not condone "unlawful" fishing by any state in the country's waters.

"There is no truth to the speculation of a purported 'verbal fishing agreement' between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping, nor that Chinese vessels were encouraged to stay in West Philippine Sea despite the diplomatic protests and strongly worded statements of Philippine government officials," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

"This is without basis and is quite simply, conjecture," he added.

Roque also urged concerned parties to refrain from "making malicious speculations and false claims."

In 2019, Duterte himself revealed he had an earlier agreement with Xi — one that lets Beijing fish in Recto Bank for as long as China will not block fishermen from the Scarborough Shoal.

"Will you allow the Chinese to fish? Of course. 'Yan ang pinag-usapan namin noon, kaya tayong nag-uusap. And that was we were allowed to fish again. It was a mutual agreement. Sige bigayan tayo. Fish ka doon, fish ako dito," Duterte said during a speech in June 2019.

[Translation: Will you allow the Chinese to fish? Of course. That's what we talked about before, that's why we talked. And that was why we were allowed to fish again. It was a mutual agreement. Let's give and take. You can fish here, and I can fish there.]

But Roque argued that a fishing agreement, under local laws, can only be done through a treaty.

"A treaty must be in writing," Roque pointed out, citing Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties. "No such treaty or agreement exists between the Philippines and China."

RELATED: US to support PH in addressing illegal fishing, marine destruction in West PH Sea

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, and has repeatedly rejected the 2016 arbitral ruling that recognized Manila's sovereign rights in areas of its exclusive economic zone that Beijing contests. The tribunal also invalidated the East Asian giant's sweeping "historic rights" claims to the disputed waters.