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Filipino fishers return to Scarborough Shoal amid Chinese presence


Map showing the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (south China Sea), including the Spratlys Islands and Scarborough Shoal. AFP

Filipino fishermen have returned to Panatag Shoal, sharing the disputed waters with their Chinese counterparts under the careful watch of Philippine and Chinese maritime ships, a military official said Sunday.

Lieutenant General Anthony Alcantara, chief of the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), reported that six Filipino fishing boats were anchored Sunday in the lagoon in the middle of a cluster of reefs and islands in the area, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, 220 kilometers west of Zambales.

It was the first time the military reported the presence of Filipino fishermen in the area since tensions began on April 10 when two Chinese surveillance ships stopped the Philippine Navy from accosting eight Chinese fishing boats loaded with poached marine life.

Alcantara played down the return of the Filipinos, saying they have the right to fish at Panatag, which China claims is part of its territory.

“We never banned our fisherfolks from fishing there. These are our natural fishing grounds. We’ve been fishing there for a long time,” Alcantara said in an interview over dzBB radio.

He also stressed that Filipinos should not hesitate to go to Panatag. “Our Coast Guard is ready to help and protect the interests of our fishermen in that area,” he said.

‘Very stable’ situation

Alcantara said the situation at Panatag was “very stable.”

“No unusual incident has been reported to us,” he said, adding that a Coast Guard search and rescue vessel, BRP Pampanga, or SARV 003, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel, MCS3001, were still in the waters. He declined to give specifics of the BFAR vessel although in its previous operations enforcing fishing laws Coast Guard personnel were reported on board.

“Two Chinese surveillance ships, one is number 71, the other is undetermined, are also still there. One of them is located 3 nautical miles (5.4 km), south of the entrance of the shoal, while the other is 12 nautical miles (21.6 km) east of (SARV) 003,” he said.

China’s biggest and most advanced maritime surveillance ship, the FLEC 310, also called Yuzheng 310, has not been sighted in the area. FLEC 310 reportedly brushed past the Filipino ships on Saturday morning in what Philippine officials described as harassment.

“It is assumed (the FLEC 310) is somewhere else beyond our Coast Guard’s visual contact. That’s the situation. We are continuously monitoring the situation,” Alcantara said. He declined further comment, saying he had yet to receive a report on this from the Coast Guard.

“What we can say at Nolcom, our Armed Forces is prepared to help our Coast Guard assert our claims on Scarborough Shoal. We believe it is ours and we have to assert our sovereignty in this place,” he said.

“What’s clear is it’s part of our exclusive economic zone, according to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. That’s very clear,” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Coast Guard, the Maritime Group of the Philippine National Police and other agencies have roles to protect Philippine interests in the area, Alcantara said. “We are helping each other out, all of us. We are in the same boat.”

Originally posted: 4:38 pm | Sunday, April 29th, 2012

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Tags: Anthony Alcantara , Armed Forces of the Philippines , Bajo de Masinloc , Benigno Aquino III , Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources , China , coast guard , Defense , Diplomacy , fishermen , Foreign affairs , geopolitics , Global Nation , Government , International relations , Maritime Dispute , Military , Northern Luzon Command , Philippine Army , Philippine government , Philippines , Politics , Scarborough Shoal , Security , Spratlys , territorial disputes , Territories

  • Allan Ganigan

    we need to get that area no matter what because as a citizen of the Philippine, that is part of Sovereignty…

  • 0429OH

    Tibet people let the Chinese in ,yes tibet people welcome the Chinese govt in to develope their economy ! Only their useless local Buddhist so call bullshit spiritual leader supported by the WESTERN countries does not want their people to upgrade their living standard ! Pray,pray,and pray everyday ! Will always praying will satisfy their stomach ! Come on let’s face the reality !

  • johnygo

    look at the history, U S Vs Spain war. kanino ba sumuko ang mga Kastila? di sa Kano. me nagawa ba tayo.? e  di wala.. ano pa ? we need to ask U S to take back the Bataan Nuclear plant or else we will talk to China and ask them a joint venture in developing the area in contest.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T3PAYDMX2LDHTY7MXFRIZNQGQE Trystam Bhale

      Managinip ka ng gising.

  • johnygo

    we need to have a joint venture dyan sa lugar na yan. kung may oil ,e di hati . do we have the technology to develop the area. wag na natin ibigay sa mga kano , or BP tingnan nyo naman ang ginawa sa gulp of Mexico. ano pa ang ginawa ng EPA.? e di wala, malakas ang lobby ng oil co.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T3PAYDMX2LDHTY7MXFRIZNQGQE Trystam Bhale

      Engot ka ba? Hindi mo ba nakita ang sinabi ng mga Insekto, sa kanila lang daw ang buong South China Sea. 

  • WAJ

    The Philippines need outside financial and military support preferably from the USA to upgrade the Military Forces. It is not good if the country would ask the Chinese Government for that reason because sooner or later the Philippines will become their territory as they claimed   Scarborough Shoal.  

  • boyscarborough

    i think one of the main reason why chenese claim the scarborough shoal because this island and philippine teretory is mayaman sa yamang dagat, kaya dumadayo ang mga mangingisda nila dito dahil mismo yata sa nasasakupan nilang karagatan eh wala na silang makuhang yamang dagat dahil khit mga ipinagbabawal na isda ay kinukuha nila, kaya gusto nilang sakupin ang dagat at isla na sakop ng pilipinas at para ito ang magsilbing boudery nila,

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