Duterte on Filipinos' fishing rights in Scarborough Shoal: 'I leave it to the Chinese authorities'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Friday that the issue of Filipino's fishing rights in the contested Scarborough Shoal was brought up during his state visit to China.

Full text: President Duterte's message, presser upon his arrival from his state visits to Brunei, China

"Yes of course we did," Duterte said when asked about the matter. But the President pointed out that he will "leave it to Chinese authorities, what they will do in the next few days from now."

 

Duterte said he raised it in "private talks" and did not elaborate further. "I leave it to them to, it’s one of the things I said that in the private talks which I cannot, but tingnan natin [let us see]. Let us see what develops in the days to come."

Moments before, the President said that both countries "agreed to continue discussions on confidence-building measures, including a bilateral consultation mechanism to discuss immediate issues of concern in South China Sea."

Last July, an international panel of judges at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague unanimously ruled in favor of the Philippines in a case against China's claims to virtually all of the South China Sea.

Related: PH wins maritime arbitration case vs. China

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal upheld the Manila's position that China's "nine-dash line" maritime claim is excessive and encroached into the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Scarborough Shoal lies within the Philippines EEZ.

West-PH-Sea-101-infographics-CNNPH (4) (1).png  

The Chinese government has refused to accept the decision. Filipino fisherfolk have been barred from entering the shoal's rich fishing grounds, as Chinese vessels have been blocking their boats.

Read: Filipino fishermen still barred from Scarborough Shoal

The shoal is rich in marine life, and Filipino fishermen claim they could haul in up to 10,000 tons of fish and other seafood during their expeditions. The shoal also provides shelter during storms.

"Pag may bagyo, malakas, masamang panahon, pag tumatago kami doon, safety kami, hindi kami nangangambang kasi mag-abang yung China sa amin. Bubulabugin kami tapos binobomba pa ng tubig," fisherman Esterlito Laranjo said when CNN Philippines visited Masinloc, Zambales last July after the tribunal issued its ruling.

[Translation: When the storms are strong and the weather is bad, we are safe when we hide there. We don't worry. But now, the Chinese harass us and even hit us with water cannons.]

China began building up its presence at the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 following a months-long stand-off between Philippine and Chinese vessels.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and JC Gotinga contributed to this report.