CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—The mayor of Masinloc town in Zambales province on Thursday voiced the need for official information on the situation at Scarborough Shoal so that she could properly caution local fisherfolk and ensure their safety.
Mayor Desiree Edora, interviewed at the launch here of a registry of fisherfolk, said she needed official data from the Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Navy to validate reports by fisherfolk that armed men on Chinese patrol boats have been driving away those who try getting near the shoal.
Local fisherfolk and residents refer to the shoal as Bajo de Masinloc. The local government, in a resolution two years ago, staked its claim over the area.
The Philippine government, asserting the shoal is within its territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), had taken the dispute to an international court.
“Our fishermen cannot understand [the] Chinese [language]. But Chinese guards move their arms and hands in such a way that our fishermen interpret that they’re being shooed away,” Edora said.
She said the local government has no way of verifying these accounts because it has no large boat capable of sailing amid huge waves to reach the area, which is 124 nautical miles (229.64 kilometers) off Masinloc.