Duterte is for national interest, Tolentino says on China fishing deal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2019 10:45 AM

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MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte will not do anything that will go against national interest, one of his allies in the Senate said Tuesday.

Sen. Francis Tolentino delivered a privilege speech on Monday where he discussed the verbal agreement between Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the protection of Filipino fishermen and the need for more international agreements.

"My treatment here is that oral agreement is an executive agreement," said Tolentino, who added that he was not privy to the details of the deal.

"I believe the President will not do something against the national interest of this country," he told ANC's Headstart.

Tolentino said he meant to highlight the plight of fisherfolk in his privilege speech.

"Kulang ang batas natin para maprotektahan pa yung ating mangingisda, kaalinsabay sa paliwanag natin na atin talaga yung lugar, although limited," he said.

(We don't have enough laws to protect our fishermen, at the same time we explained that the area is ours, though limited.)

Tolentino's Senate Bill 209 or the "Good Samaritan at Sea Bill," seeks to provide additional safety measures for Filipino fishermen.

"This would clearly show -- in terms of law -- that we have control of the area, enforcement would be a different matter," he said.

In June, 22 Filipino fishermen were left out at sea after their boat was hit by a Chinese vessel, causing it to sink near Reed Bank (Recto Bank). They were rescued by a Vietnamese crew.