Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bill Seeks Safe Ports For Filipino Fisherfolk In WPS

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Bill Seeks Safe Ports For Filipino Fisherfolk In WPS

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The House of Representatives will push for a bill that will establish fishing shelters and ports in nine occupied maritime features in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the Philippine Rise.

House Bill 9011 will involve the islands of Lawak, Kota, Likas, Pag-asa, Parola, Panata, Patag, Rizal Reef, and Ayungin Shoal to serve as safe spots for fishers where they can take refuge during unforeseen circumstances, according to a news release on Tuesday.

Bill author Agri Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee said the shelters and ports would also store gears, supplies and communication devices.

He said the measure is aligned with Executive Order (EO) 57 that created the National Maritime Council (NMC) and renamed and reorganized the National Coast Watch Council (NCWC), noting that it would uphold national sovereignty and ease the plight of Filipino fisherfolk.

“This measure can sustainably ensure and send a loud message that the WPS and the Philippine Rise are ours,” he said. “Our territorial waters are vulnerable, so are the lives of our fishermen — our food security soldiers.”

Meanwhile, Iloilo 5th District Rep. Raul Tupas, chairperson of the Committee on National Defense and Security, lauded the creation of the NMC as a “strategic move” to advance the country’s national security, territorial integrity, and sovereign rights amid rising tensions between the Philippines and China over territorial disputes.

He said a central body in charge of formulating national strategies for specific maritime concerns is a significant approach to China’s aggressions in the WPS.

“We support President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s move to reorganize the National Maritime Council,” Tupas said in a statement, also on Tuesday.

“We must protect our fisherfolk making a living in the West Philippine Sea, our Coast Guard and military personnel who protect our exclusive zone, and, as always, be firm with our sovereignty based on accepted international laws,” he added.

The members of the NMC are the Secretaries of the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs; and the National Security Adviser. (PNA)

Photo credit: Facebook/armedforcesofthephilippines

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