China coast guard not stopping Filipino fishers in Panatag–Palace
Chinese Coast Guard vessels were no longer stopping Filipino fishermen from fishing in the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), Malacañang announced on Friday.
“Also, regarding fishing on Scarborough shoals, for the past three days, it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels, and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted, and that they’re now able to fish in the area without being intercepted,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.
Abella, however, refused to give the source of his information.
“All I can say is that at this stage it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guards in the area,” he said.
In his speech in the typhoon-hit provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, President Rodrigo Duterte said he had discussed the Scarborough Shoal with Chinese leaders during his four-day trip to Beijing on Oct. 18 to 21.
Duterte had expressed hope that Filipino fishermen would be able to return soon to the disputed fishing ground in the West Philippine Sea.
An Inquirer report said eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province were able to enter Panatag Shoal on Wednesday without harassment from the Chinese Coast Guard, which had been blockading the fishing ground since 2012.
On June 12, the Philippines won a landmark decision by the United Nations (UN) international arbitral tribunal on the maritime dispute between Philippines and China.
The Chinese government, however, has repeatedly refused to honor the ruling.
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