Fishers rejoice as they return to Scarborough Shoal
Manila, Philippines – The patriotic fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) rejoices as the Filipino fishers are now able to return and fish in the Scarborough Shoal.
Since Tuesday, Filipino fishers from Zambales and Pangasinan have been fishing in Scarborough Shoal without them being harassed and chased by the Chinese Coast Guards unlike before. This was after President Duterte’s state visit to China last October 18-21 where he had an informal talk with an unnamed Chinese leader regarding the territorial dispute.
“We welcome President Duterte’s concrete deeds to make our fishermen return to their traditional fishing grounds in Scarborough Shoal. Moreover, it is an initial victory for the Filipino fishermen who consistently aired their collective voices to assert their rights to the West Philippine Sea. Without the unity of the fisherfolk and other patriotic sectors and alliance who took up to the streets and engaged with government officials, we may not be able to take our territory back,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson said in a statement.
Since the dispute happened on 2012, Filipino fishers were unable to fish in the disputed West Philippine Sea for they were being harassed and intimidated by Chinese personnel stationed in the area. Numerous harassments of Filipino fishers were reported at the height of the sea row including water cannon bombing and ramming of Filipino fishing boats. The fisherfolk group hopes that this will be a permanent arrangement with no strings attached between China and the Philippines.
“We always aspire for this kind of peaceful resolution in the sea row. We have high hopes that this will be an indication that China will now respect our rightful claim in the West Philippine Sea and such antagonistic and aggressive approach before would never happen again,” Hicap said.
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya calls to stay vigilant for a possible planned-sabotage on the peaceful conclusion of the sea row. Pamalakaya pinned the United States (U.S.) whose military relation with the country is on the rocks. The fisherfolk group said the U.S. must stop all its joint patrol activities in the South China Sea that provoke China to militarize and aggressively show muscles in the area, making poor fisherfolk the front-line casualties.
“It’s crystal clear that presence of the United States in the South China Sea did nothing to defend the rights of Filipino fishermen who were affected by the dispute. In fact, they are one of the primary factors why China intensified its military aggression in the disputed waters,”
“Now that we victoriously regain possession of the West Philippine Sea, our utmost task now is to actively defend our territory from any foreign interventions that threaten our sovereignty and national interests, whether it be the U.S. or China,” Hicap ended. ###