Philippines demands China to act on "fish thievery" of Chinese Coast Guard vs Filipino fishermen
The Philippine government has demanded China to act on the "fish thievery" by the Chinese Coast Guard against Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, Malacanang said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Duterte administration was "not taking sitting down" what had happened to Filipino fishermen.
Three fishermen present in the press briefing narrated how members of the Chinese Coast Guard would go up to their boats at least twice during the duration of their stay at West Philippine Sea and they would open their containers to choose and get their good fish catch.
Rommel Cejuela, a fisherman from Masinloc, said every time Chinese Coast Guard personnel would go up their boat, they get about P4,000 worth of fish catch. In exchange, the Chinese would just give them cigarettes, water or noodles, he said.
He said the latest incident that Chinese Coast Guards personnel went up to their fishing boat was last month.
Fishermen said they did not see any Philippine Coast Guard patrolling the area.
Asked who he thought has control over the Scarborough Shoal, Cejuela said, "apparently it's China."
The United Nations Arbitral Tribunal has declared Scarborough is a traditional fishing ground of the Filipinos, Chinese and other nationals.
The Philippines has been claiming Scarborough Shoal as it is within its 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone. But China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line, which was declared as invalid by the arbitration court.
Roque said he got the statements of the three fishermen who were figured in the incident.
He said statements would be formally transmitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Task Force on West Philippine Sea.
Roque said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has already brought up the issue with Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua.
He refused to call as "harassment" the incident involving the Chinese coast guards. Instead, he called it "fish thievery."
Roque said what had happened was "not acceptable" and the Filipino fishermen "deserve better."
"That’s why we are taking steps to address the issue with the Chinese. We have addressed this issue to the Chinese and we are demanding that the Chinese take steps to stop the Coast Guard from doing these acts," he said.
If there are "rotten" members of the Philippine Coast Guard, he said there are also "rotten" Chinese coast guards.
Roque said China should discipline also its own coast guard. Celerina Monte/DMS