Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while delivering a speech during the 80th National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) founding anniversary at the NBI headquarters in metro Manila, Philippines Nov. 14, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
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Philippine fishermen Wednesday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to ban them from a rich South China Sea fishing ground, part of his efforts to ease tensions over disputed waters controlled by China.Duterte's aides said he had made a "unilateral" declaration to make the lagoon at Scarborough Shoal a protected marine sanctuary, after raising the issue during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a regional summit in Peru last weekend.After taking control of the shoal in 2012, China banned Filipino fishermen from operating there. The ban was eased last month after Duterte visited Beijing to mend ties, with the Filipinos allowed to fish outside the lagoon.Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said Duterte's declaration favoured China since the Philippines could further lose access to the shoal.
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