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‘Unclos permits foreigners to fish at South China Sea’

Batas Mauricio .

“THE last laugh is mine.” This was the sly retort which Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III hurled on July 4, 2019, against his critics who had been poking fun at him after he agreed that Chinese and other foreign fishermen could also catch fish within the “exclusive economic zone” (EEZ) of the Philippines at the South China Sea.

Sotto clarified that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (Unclos), foreigners, like the Chinese, can actually fish in the 200-mile “exclusive economic zone” of the Philippines.

Contrary to what his critics have been saying (that only Filipinos have the right to catch fish in the EEZ), Sotto said the Unclos itself, in its various provisions, provides that it is not only us, Filipinos, who have the right to engage in fishing within the Philippine EEZ at the South China Sea, but subject to certain conditions, foreigners as well. This makes the critics look like simpletons, Sotto quipped.

Sotto clarified in his speech at the induction and handover ceremonies of the Rotary Club of Manila that the condition he is seeking before other countries can be allowed to fish in the Philippine “exclusive economic zone” at the South China Sea–which is for those countries to allow Filipinos to fish in their own territorial waters likewise–actually is a take-off from the Unclos.

According to him, the Philippines can ask from the countries which want to also engage in fishing activities at its EEZ at the South China Sea to grant the same fishing privileges to Filipino fishermen so they could also fish freely in their territorial waters.

This kind of a rule from the Unclos, Sotto said, actually recognizes the truth that there is no longer anyone country which could be considered as the “sole owner” of the waters in, and surrounding, it, even if these bodies of water are located very near their shores. The senator said there is actually a rule which recognizes the fact that bodies of water are considered “commonly owned” by all nations, so that everyone now has a right to those bodies of water as well.


In the speeches delivered by many of the newly installed local officials who assumed their respective positions, I am quite saddened to say that, from the looks of it, no beneficial change could once again be expected to descend upon our country and upon many of our people who are pining for better lives from hereon.

Why am I saying this? It is clear to me that many of these new officials have set their sights on plans and objectives that do not hew to the commands of God in the Bible, or in any other holy books of different spiritual groups. If, once again, God and His commands do not form part of the leadership plans and objectives of  our new officials, it is a certainty they would not be able to wrack up even a mere modicum of success for their constituents.

Yes, of course, many will once again tell me that it is not really right to be too dependent on God about how our officials in the whole stretch of the Philippine archipelago would discharge their duties and functions. They would say that while mercy comes from God, the official must be the one to “push and shove” with his sweat, blood, and tears, to make the life of the people under him a lot more desirable. Which may have some ring of truth in it, really!

The only problem here is that, in the whole history of the Philippines from the time it was told that it was already a country free from foreign domination so that its own citizens could already conduct the affairs of the nation, no truly beneficial change towards success and prosperity has ever truly come to the masses. Life didn’t become more bearable for many of them. On the contrary, Filipinos had to endure and suffer more hardships and difficulties, in the hands of rulers who are their own countrymen.

And about 90 percent of our people have been forced to live a life of misery and sorrow, from those initial days of independence, and even up to now. It is a sad reality that many of them can usually have a taste of financial surplus–having more than they usually could earn–only during election periods, when they knowingly receive bribe money from politicians who are willing, and, of course, who have the money, to buy votes to assure their unending victory in the polling precincts.

There could also be no denying the fact that only politicians and those who manage to land positions in government who grow wealthy using their power and influence. It is sad reality that  many people in government think, talk, and act, only to further their personal interests, as well as the interest of their families and their political allies. Rarely, if ever, can we see them doing something to make life better for suffering Filipinos who voted them into office in the first place.

In the face of these indiscretions by their own leaders, there is one question that is begging for an answer: how can Filipinos have a better life then? And why do Filipinos continue to have government officials and leaders who are obsessed with nothing but only with their own personal, family, and political, interests? From where I sit, there is only reason here: these leaders and officials do not have God in their hearts, in their minds, and in their souls and spirits.

These leaders do not have any fear and love of God. And they have no fear and love of God because they refuse to recognize or honor God, despite their profession of faith in Him. Because they are refusing to recognize or honor God, these leaders are not disposed to obey God’s commands, particularly the command for all of us to love others as we love ourselves.

I pray I am mistaken, but from what I have seen so far, our country will be having this kind of leaders all over again, till 2022… leaders who are without any fear and love of God, who sport a fake and spurious belief or faith in Him. Based on their pronouncements and behavior during their inaugural ceremonies, God is not going to be present again in their leadership. Well, may God truly have mercy on us, Filipinos!



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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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