A youth group advocating for territorial sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea has accused President Rodrigo Duterte of committing “treason” by allowing China to fish in the country’s territorial waters.

In a statement furnished to Palawan News, the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea (NYMWPS), claimed that the pronouncement of the president violated the Constitution.

“The NYMWPS considers the recent pronouncement treasonous,” the statement said, citing the 1987 Constitution which provides that the State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its EEZ, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

NYMWPS global chairperson Dr. Celia Lamkin, said President Rodrigo Duterte has consistently proven that when it comes to China, he will “never show teeth” to protect the sovereignty of the Philippines.

“His lackadaisical stance amidst the blatant disrespect of the UN Tribunal ruling by the territorial bully is simply a manifestation of his kowtowing to China,” she said.

The group criticized the “soft” posture of the Duterte administration on reports that Filipino fishermen are bullied when they fish in the waters of the West Philippine Sea.

NYMWPS advisor Jose Antonio Custodio added that Duterte’s action is enabling China to consolidate its ill-gotten gains in the disputed region at the expense of the country’s national interests and the Filipino fishermen.

“It is not even a slap in the wrist of the Chinese who will now be more emboldened to exploit the Philippines’ entitlements in our EEZ and expand further into our territorial and inland seas and even beyond to the eastern EEZ in Benham Rise,” he said.

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