The governments of the Philippines, China and Vietnam should forge an agreement to govern fishing in the Scarborough Shoal, acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said on Thursday.
“We have a right to fish, the Chinese have a right to fish, and the Vietnamese have a right to fish,” the acting Chief Magistrate said over CNN Philippines.
Carpio pointed out that a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has ruled in 2016 that the disputed reef was a common fishing ground for Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.
While the tribunal could not decide on the ownership of the reef since it was a territorial issue, Carpio said it could decide on maritime issues such as fishing.
“One thing that is lacking is that there is no common agreement among these three nations. They should sit down and discuss the rules of fishing within that shoal,” he said.
But China, Carpio lamented, would not want to discuss the matter with the Philippines because they refuse to recognize the PCA’s ruling.
“They’re saying that ‘out of the goodwill,’ ‘out of the goodness of their heart,’ they’re allowing us to fish there. But that’s not what the ruling says,” Carpio said.