Zambales fishers slam latest Chinese harassment in Scarborough Shoal

By: Joanna Rose Aglibot
6 hours ago

Fishermen in Zambales province prepare their fishing boat in this coastal village of Subic city

Fishermen in Zambales province prepare their fishing boat in this coastal village of Subic city. Many of the local fishermen used to sail to the controversial Scarborough Shoal, where the Chinese Coast Guard recently evicted their fellow fishermen. (Photo courtesy of Joanna Rose Aglibot)

SAN ANTONIO, Zambales — Fishermen from Zambales province on Monday attacked the latest incident of Chinese Coast Guard harassment of their fellow fishermen near the Scarborough Shoal, which has served as their traditional fishing ground for decades.

A video released on February 13 by the Peoples Development Institute (PDI), an NGO that helps fishermen, showed Chinese naval militia boats again harassing fishermen from Zambales, ordering them to disembark while the Filipinos near the shoal sailed on February 3rd and 6th.

When the PDI arrived on Monday, the PDI said the fishermen were from the coastal town of Masinloc, about 20 nautical miles (220 kilometers) from the shoal, which locals also called Bajo de Masinloc or the Panatag Shoal.

Bobby Roldan, vice chairman of the Pamalakaya fishing group in Luzon, told the Inquirer Monday that they were no longer surprised after learning of the recent Chinese invasion.

“It is not hidden from the fishermen that the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard in the shoal is regular,” said Roldan, also a fisherman in Masinloc.

But he said the incident should still be a matter of concern for the government.

Scared, intimidated

Citing reports from Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo that the Chinese Coast Guard patrolled the shoal almost every day last year, Roldan said these incidents “stoke fear and intimidation among Filipino fishermen.”

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“So contrary to what President Marcos is saying, Filipinos still cannot fish peacefully in our fisheries,” Roldan said.

He added: “This should worry the Marcos government as many Filipino fishermen are still giving up their livelihoods to find other sources of income. It also seriously impacts the country’s overall fish production and food security.”

He said his group has again urged the government to immediately direct the Philippine Coast Guard and other naval forces to conduct regular and active patrols in the Western Philippine Sea (WPS) to ensure the safety of Philippine fishermen.

In a previous interview, Leonardo Cuaresma, another local fisherman and president of the New Masinloc Fisherman Association, said its members were still reluctant to return to the shoal after experiencing harassment from the Chinese Coast Guard in recent years.


“What’s the reason for going back? [to the shoal]? They (the Chinese Coast Guard) have already ruined it. They have damaged many of our natural resources there and should be held accountable,” Cuaresma said.

Cuaresma added that the Philippine government should assert its sovereignty rights over the Shoal and other areas in the WPS claimed by China.

“We have already shown all our neighboring countries respect, even if we are bullied there, but our government has yet to act,” he said.

Scarborough Shoal is a triangular chain of reefs and islands surrounding a 150km wide lagoon.

Abundant marine resources in the shoal and surrounding waters attract fishermen from China and the Philippines, both of which lay claim to it.

The shoal is within the country’s 370 km exclusive economic zone.

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China, which has sweeping claims across most of the western Philippine Sea, took control of the shoal in 2012, prompting the country to seek UN arbitration.

In 2016, the Arbitration Court invalidated China’s sweeping claims, but China continues to ignore the verdict. INQ


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Zambales fishermen leave the ‘dangerous’ Panatag Shoal



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