Fisherfolk group decries Duterte’s ‘criminal negligence’ as Chinese fortifies military base in Kagitingan Reef

“Our winning in the case filed before the international tribunal has been disregarded not only by China but by the Philippine government itself.”

By RUTH LUMIBAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Early in 2016, there have already been reports on the building of military facilities by China on the disputed Kagitingan Reef, internationally known as the Fiery Cross Reef.

Despite constant threats, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to trust that the Chinese government will respect the decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) that Spratly Islands, where the Kagitingan Reef belongs, fall within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

The Kagitingan Reef in 2005. (Photo grabbed from https://www.pinterest.com/barts83eu/asia-china-philipines-sea/)

On January 3, 2018, a report from Hong Kong-based news website, Asia Times detailed how the reef has already been transformed into a fortified Chinese military base, including a 3,125-meter runway for 6K strategic bombers.

Progressive fisherfolk group, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) decried the “negligence” of the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in protecting the country’s national sovereignty.

“Duterte has to blame for this outright foreign take-over of our marine territory. His soft approach toward China to be able to beg for foreign aid has led to the total sell-out of our national sovereignty. Our winning in the case filed before the international tribunal has been disregarded not only by China but by the Philippine government itself,” PAMALAKAYA Chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

Hicap added that the complete Chinese takeover of Kagitingan Reef would affect the livelihood of fisherfolk.

“China is destroying the country’s marine ecology by carrying out incessant reclamation and dredging activities in our shoals and reefs,” he explained.

PAMALAKAYA is calling on the Filipino people to unite and actively pressure China to drop its claim and to press for Duterte’s accountability in completely surrendering part of our territory to another country. (http://bulatlat.com)

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