The 2016 oral fisheries agreement between Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping allowed the Chinese to fish within 200 nautical miles of the Philippine eEZ, when China allowed Filipinos to fish in the Panatag (Scarborough). MANILA ( - Neophyte Senator Francis Tolentino, who has guaranteed his expertise in international law, delivered his first speech on Senate privilege on Monday, centered on President Rodrigo Duterte`s agreement with China. MANILA -- The "verbal" fisheries agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which allows Chinese nationals to fish within the Philippines` exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is still "legally binding," Malacañang said Monday. He added: "Even in the law, even if it is verbal, it is still valid and binding as long as there is a mutual agreement between the two parties. That`s why it`s a deal. The president`s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, made the remark a week after Duterte laid bare that he had an agreement with Xi to allow the Chinese to fish within 200 nautical miles of the Philippine eEZ, if China allowed the Filipinos to fish for shoal during their first bilateral meeting in October 2016 at Panatag (Scarborough). The president said Filipino fishermen now have access to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal because the deal was reportedly reached in 2016. "Kahit sa batas, kahit na verbally valid and binding iyon basta mayroong mutual consent ang dalawang partido. Kaya nga agreement anyway (even in the law, even if it is verbal, it is valid and binding as long as there is mutual consent between the two parties. That`s why it`s a deal)," said Panelo, also the president`s chief legal adviser.
"Unang-una, wala tayong resources (first we don`t have resources) The reason we need joint ventures and joint agreements with other countries is because wala tayong kapasidad (we don`t have the capacity)," he added. Rappler reporters have been banned from covering the events in Dutertes for a year and 5 months, but the palace has not provided a written order outlining the parameters of the ban and its legal basis. The ban is implemented solely on the basis of Duterte`s verbal order power to Malacañang employees and the president`s security group. "The president, as the principal architect of our foreign policy, has the power to enter into written or oral executive agreements," Panelo, who is also chief presidential legal counsel, said in a statement. For maritime and legal experts, the presumed oral agreement should be made public. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Wednesday, contradicting earlier statements by President Salvador Panelo`s spokesman, who said the verbal agreement between the two leaders was "legally binding." "Whatever agreements are reached, I think we will also have to go through the Senate. If it`s a contract, it has to go through the Senate, right? "He said." Oral agreement cannot be imposed on us, it is verbal. You need a document to prove an agreement. That`s the way it is," Locsin said. The fisheries deal was reportedly reached by the two leaders during Dutertes` state visit to Beijing in 2016, but was only released last week at Recto Bank after colliding and sinking a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel. "The public should be able to know what the content of this agreement is," he added.
In his speech, Tolentino said that "oral agreements" between presidents are respected by international law. "As the principal architect of the nation`s foreign policy, the president may enter into executive agreements with other nations on the execution and implementation of laws drafted by Congress as well as treaties concluded by the state. . . .