Chinese encroachment ‘causing hunger’ of fishers’ families
PALAUIG, ZAMBALES — Chinese encroachment at Panatag Shoal (internationally known as Scarborough Shoal) has brought nothing but hunger to fishermen in this province and nearby Pangasinan, a group of subsistence fisher folk said.
In a three-page letter to President Duterte, the fishermen asked him to enforce the country’s sovereign rights over traditional Filipino fishing grounds now being controlled by the Chinese Coast Guard.
The fishermen gathered here on Wednesday for a forum on the impact of Chinese aggression on the local fishing economy.
The fishermen said that with the Chinese coast guards stealing their best catch, their families had gone hungry and unable to eat three meals a day.
The President, they said, should implement the ruling of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which gives Filipinos the freedom to fish in the shoal.
Coast Guard protection
Local fishermen should also be protected by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources when they are out in the open sea, they added.
Lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, urged the fishermen to continue going to the shoal so they could obtain more evidence against China’s encroachment in the area.
“The best evidence we will have against China is you. We need to have a continuous advocacy to expose the real intent of China in patrolling the Scarborough Shoal,” he said. — ALLAN MACATUNO
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