28 Oct Pinoy Fishermen Can Fish in Panatag Shoal Again, Chinese Coast Guard Did not Interfere
On October 26, Wednesday, eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province went fishing to Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal. Surprisingly, the Chinese Coast Guard did not interfere in the fishing activities done by the Filipino fishermen.
The shoal was barred by the Chinese Coast Guard since 2012 and fishermen were complaining about the blockading the rich fishing grounds.
Boat captain Aniceto Achina, 40 years old, stated on Wednesday, “We received a radio message that some of our fellow fishermen were able to approach the shoal. The Chinese Coast Guard did not intercept their boats.”
Fishermen who entered Panatag Shoal asked Achina to send more supplies, certain that they could now fish in the shoal without being bombarded by the Chinese coast guards.
During President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China last week, the leaders discussed the return of Filipino fishermen to Panatag.
The president said on Sunday during his visit to typhoon victims in Northern Luzon that the Filipino fishermen might be able to fish again in the shoal, but that he was not certain if the Chinese would do what has promised.
Beijing has violated Manila’s rights to fish and survey for resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. In addition, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, stating that China’s assert has no justification in international law.
China ignored and rejected the court’s ruling as they persist in barricading Panatag.
However, President Duterte pursued in mending ties with China and urged his diplomatic strategy by visiting Beijing for four days with a large business delegation last week.
To join the other Filipino fishermen who already entered Panatag, Achina and his 11-member crew sailed at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Other fishermen such as Rodel David, 30 years old, would grab the opportunity to fish again in the shoal.
David stated, “We have prepared our boats for trips to other fishing grounds, but since some of our fellow fishermen have started fishing at the shoal again, we will join them.”
He also said that fishermen from Bataan and Pangasinan also went to Panatag shoal.
He added, “One of China’s patrol ships approached the boats of our fellow fishermen as they tried to enter the shoal. Surprisingly, they have not driven away.”
News Source: Inquirer