MANILA, July 24 (Mabuhay) — Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to prohibit China from fishing within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea during his last year in office.

“Isa lang ang test. Sabihin niya lang, wala namang mawawala sa kanya, ‘susunod ako sa Saligang Batas, bawal ang mga Chinese fishermen mangisda sa ating EEZ,’” Carpio said during 1Sambayan’s virtual press conference before Duterte’s last state of the nation address.

By doing so, the retired magistrate said Duterte will be following the Philippine Constitution, the 2016 Arbitral Award, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and international laws.

“And that is what the Filipino fishermen want pero kaya niya ba gawin yan? Napakadali. I hope he will surprise me and say na, ‘Bawal na. I will prohibit them from violating our Constitution, violating the Arbitral Award. ‘Yun lang ang hihingin ko sa kanya,” Carpio said.

In 2019, Duterte said he had given China the right to fish in the West Philippine Sea.

Critics alleged that Duterte may have committed an impeachable offense over a fishing deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 as they pointed out that only the Philippines has the right to exploit resources in the country’s waters including the 200-nautical mile EEZ.

Former presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in 2019 that the Duterte-Xi fishing agreement was not written on paper as they deem it unnecessary.

But in April this year, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque denied that Duterte had a verbal agreement with China’s president over fishing rights in the Philippine EEZ.

Duterte will be delivering his sixth and final State of the Nation Address on Monday.

The opposition coalition 1Sambayan will hold a contra-SONA next Wednesday. (MNS)

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