CLAIM: The disputed West Philippine Sea is “just water” where the fish catch is small
RATING: FALSE

In his television program “Gikan sa Masa, para sa Masa”, former president Rodrigo Duterte falsely claimed that the West Philippine Sea (WPS) was ‘just water’ and that the catch was small for Filipino fishermen there.

The WPS is not just a body of water. Based on a primer published by the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, within the WPS lies the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc – both holding significant importance to the country’s food and energy security.

According to Eduardo Gongona, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), over 300,000 metric tons of fish are harvested in the WPS annually, representing about 7% of the country’s fisheries output.

The KIG’s reef area hosts breeding grounds and shelter for marine organisms and it is also known to have petroleum reserves as well as mineral deposits.

Former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources head Asis Perez, now the senior legal adviser of Tanggol Kalikasan, said that while the WPS constitutes only 2.5% of the world’s water, 12% of the world’s annual fish catch comes from the WPS.

Duterte uttered the false claims in the Nov. 6 episode of his two-and-a-half-hour show. The YouTube stream of his TV show has gained more than 99,000 views and over 800 comments as of writing. Roselyn Dapiton

 

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FACT-CHECK: US has no military bases in the Philippines

FACT-CHECK: US has no military bases in the Philippines

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